Multiple in vivo and in vitro studies show that excessive release of glutamate, and subsequent activation of ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs) and some metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) cause neuronal cell death through either necrosis or apoptosis. However, recently alternative evidence has shown that mGluRs have modulatory effects on excitotoxicity and neuronal cell death. Metabotropic glutamate receptors form a family of eight subtypes (mGluR1-8), subdivided into three groups (I-III) that initiate their biological effects by G protein-linked intracellular signal transduction. Their expression throughout the mammalian nervous system implicates these receptors as essential mediators of a cells fate during injury to the nervous system. Activation of group-II (mGluR2 and -3) or group-III metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR4, -6, -7 and -8) has been established to be neuroprotective in vitro and in vivo. In contrast, group-I mGluRs (mGluR1 and -5) need to be antagonized in order to evoke protection. The pathological signaling pathways associated with diabetic neuropathy are complex and this influences development of appropriate therapies. The Group II mGluRs target several signaling pathways affected in diabetic neuropathy, prevent cellular injury in the peripheral nervous system, and may provide a novel mechanism for treatment of diabetic neuropathy. Direct or indirect activation of mGluR2/3 in animal models protects against development of diabetic neuropathy. The potential mechanisms and role of mGluRs in protection against diabetic neuropathy will be reviewed.
Keywords: Diabetic neuropathy, neuron, schwann cell, oxidative stress, glutamate receptors, neuroprotection
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