Enhancement of Long-Term Spatial Memory in Adult Rats by the Noncompetitive NMDA Receptor Antagonists, Memantine and Neramexane

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NMDA receptor antagonist, Trace learning, Radial-arm water maze, Spatial memory, Dementia, Alzheimer's disease

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Memantine and neramexane are noncompetitive NMDA receptor antagonists which have been investigated for their promising effects in aiding memory in people with dementia. Memantine is approved for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, and neramexane is currently under development for this indication. Therefore, the present study provided a comparative assessment of the effects of equimolar doses of memantine and neramexane on spatial (hippocampus-dependent) memory. Adult male rats were given only 3 training trials to learn the location of a hidden platform in a water maze. In control (vehicle-injected) rats, this minimal amount of training produced intact short-term (15 min), but poor long-term (24 h), memory. Pre-training administration of memantine or neramexane produced a dose-dependent enhancement of long-term memory. Pharmacokinetic experiments with equimolar doses of both agents indicated that lower plasma levels of neramexane were more effective than memantine at enhancing memory. The effective doses of both agents in the current study produced plasma levels (and extrapolated brain CSF levels) within a range of activity at NMDA receptors and plasma levels seen in patients with Alzheimer's disease. These findings provide support for the use of neramexane as a pharmacological intervention in the treatment of dementia.

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Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, v. 85, issue 2, p. 296-305