Significance of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-mediated signaling in human keratinocytes

Walter K. Nahm, Benjamin D. Philpot, Michelle M. Adams, Evangelos V. Badiavas, Linda H. Zhou, Janet Butmarc, Mark F. Bear, Vincent Falanga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Increasing data suggest that glutamate might act as a cell-signaling molecule in non-neuronal tissues such as the skin. Here we demonstrate the presence of functional N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-type glutamate receptors in human keratinocytes. NMDA receptor expression strongly reflects the degree of cell-to-cell contact. Wounding polarizes the expression of NMDA receptors in keratinocytes involved in re-epithelialization, and the process of re-epithelialization is inhibited by NMDA receptor activation. We also demonstrate that squamous cell carcinomas lack NMDA receptors. Our data suggest that Ca2+ entry through NMDA receptors influences the cycle of keratinocyte proliferation, differentiation, and migration during epithelialization. Moreover, NMDA receptor activation might play a role in contact-mediated inhibition of growth, a process that is absent during neoplastic pathology. This receptor may serve as a pharmacological target for modulating keratinocyte behavior and treating cutaneous disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-317
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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