• AMPA;
  • basal ganglia;
  • kainate;
  • nicotinic ACh receptors;
  • mGlu receptors;
  • microdialysis;
  • NMDA;
  • tryptophan and kynurenine metabolism


Kynurenic acid is a tryptophan metabolite provided with antagonist activity on ionotropic glutamate and α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. We noticed that in rats with a dialysis probe placed in the head of their caudate nuclei, local administration of kynurenic acid (30–100 nm) significantly reduced glutamate output. Qualitatively and quantitatively similar effects were observed after systemic administration of kynurenine hydroxylase inhibitors, a procedure able to increase brain kynurenate concentrations. Interestingly, in microdialysis studies, methyllycaconitine (0.3–10 nm), a selective α7 nicotinic receptor antagonist, also reduced glutamate output. In isolated superfused striatal synaptosomes, kynurenic acid (100 nm), but not methyllycaconitine, inhibited the depolarization (KCl 12.5 mm)-induced release of transmitter or previously taken-up [3H]-D-aspartate. This inhibition was not modified by glycine, N-methyl-d-aspartate or subtype-selective kainate receptor agents, while CNQX or DNQX (10 µm), two AMPA and kainate receptor antagonists, reduced kynurenic acid effects. Low concentrations of kynurenic acid, however, did not modify [3H]-kainate (high and low affinity) or [3H]-AMPA binding to rat brain membranes. Finally, because metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors modulate transmitter release in striatal preparations, we evaluated, with negative results, kynurenic acid (1–100 nm) effects in cells transfected with mGlu1, mGlu2, mGlu4 or mGlu5 receptors. In conclusion, our data show that kynurenate-induced inhibition of glutamate release is not mediated by glutamate receptors. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, however, may contribute to the inhibitory effects of kynurenate found in microdialysis studies, but not in those found in isolated synaptosomes.