Caenorhabditis elegans as a model for studies on quinolinic acid-induced NMDAR-dependent glutamatergic disorders

Tássia Limana da Silveira, Marina Lopes Machado, Fabiane Bicca Obetine Baptista, Débora Farina Gonçalves, Diane Duarte Hartmann, Larissa Marafiga Cordeiro, Aline Franzen da Silva, Cristiane Lenz Dalla Corte, Michael Aschner, Felix Alexandre Antunes Soares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Quinolinic acid (QUIN) is an agonist of the neurotransmitter glutamate (Glu) capable of binding to N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDAR) increasing glutamatergic signaling. QUIN is known for being an endogenous neurotoxin, able to induce neurodegeneration. In Caenorhabditis elegans, the mechanism by which QUIN induces behavioral and metabolic toxicity has not been fully elucidated. The effects of QUIN on behavioral and metabolic parameters in nmr-1 and nmr-2 NMDA receptors in transgenic and wild-type (WT) worms were performed to decipher the pathway by which QUIN exerts its toxicity. QUIN increased locomotion parameters such as wavelength and movement amplitude medium, as well as speed and displacement, without modifying the number of body bends in an NMDAR-dependent-manner. QUIN increased the response time to the chemical stimulant 1-octanol, which is modulated by glutamatergic neurotransmission in the ASH neuron. Brood size increased after exposure to QUIN, dependent upon nmr-2/NMDA-receptor, with no change in lifespan. Oxygen consumption, mitochondrial membrane potential, and the flow of coupled and unbound electrons to ATP production were reduced by QUIN in wild-type animals, but did not alter citrate synthase activity, altering the functionality but the mitochondrial viability. Notably, QUIN modified fine locomotor and chemosensory behavioral parameters, as well as metabolic parameters, analogous to previously reported effects in mammals. Our results indicate that QUIN can be used as a neurotoxin to elicit glutamatergic dysfunction in C. elegans in a way analogous to other animal models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-98
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Excitotoxicity
  • Glutamatergic system
  • Kynurenine pathway
  • NMDA
  • Neurotoxin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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