The Role of N-Methyl-d-Aspartate (NMDA) Receptors in Pain: A Review

Petrenko, Andrei B. MD; Yamakura, Tomohiro MD, PhD; Baba, Hiroshi MD, PhD; Shimoji, Koki MD, PhD, FRCA

doi: 10.1213/01.ANE.0000081061.12235.55
PAIN MEDICINE: Review Article

There is accumulating evidence to implicate the importance of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors to the induction and maintenance of central sensitization during pain states. However, NMDA receptors may also mediate peripheral sensitization and visceral pain. NMDA receptors are composed of NR1, NR2 (A, B, C, and D), and NR3 (A and B) subunits, which determine the functional properties of native NMDA receptors. Among NMDA receptor subtypes, the NR2B subunit-containing receptors appear particularly important for nociception, thus leading to the possibility that NR2B-selective antagonists may be useful in the treatment of chronic pain.

From the Department of Anesthesiology, Niigata University School of Medicine, Asahimachi 1–757, Niigata 951–8510, Japan

Accepted for publication May 21, 2003.

Address correspondence to Andrei B. Petrenko, MD, Department of Anesthesiology, Niigata University School of Medicine, Asahimachi 1–757, Niigata 951–8510, Japan. Address email to abpetr@med.niigata-u.ac.jp.

© 2003 International Anesthesia Research Society