Memantine protects rats treated with intrathecal methotrexate from developing spatial memory deficits

Peter D. Cole, Veena Vijayanathan, Nafeeza F. Ali, Mark E. Wagshul, Eric J. Tanenbaum, Jeremy Price, Vidhi Dalal, Maria E. Gulinello

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33 Scopus citations


Purpose: To test whether memantine can prevent methotrexate-induced cognitive deficits in a preclinical model. Experimental Design: After noting that methotrexate exposure induces prolonged elevations of the glutamate analog homocysteic acid (HCA) within cerebrospinal fluid, we tested whether intrathecal injection of HCA would produce memory deficits similar to those observed after intrathecal methotrexate. We then tested whether memantine, an antagonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) subclass of glutamate receptors, could protect animals treated with clinically relevant doses of intrathecal methotrexate against developing memory deficits. Finally, we asked whether memantine affected this pathway beyond inhibiting the NMDA receptor by altering expression of the NMDA receptor or affecting concentrations of HCA or glutamate within the central nervous system. Results: Four intrathecal doses of methotrexate induced deficits in spatial memory, persisting at least one month following the final injection. Intrathecal HCA was sufficient to reproduce this deficit. Concurrent administration of memantine during the period of methotrexate exposure was protective, decreasing the incidence of methotrexate-induced spatial memory deficits from 56% to 20% (P < 0.05). Memantine neither altered expression of NMDA receptors within the hippocampus nor blunted the methotrexate-induced increases in glutamate or HCA. Conclusions: Excitotoxic glutamate analogs includingHCAcontribute to cognitive deficits observed after intrathecal methotrexate. Memantine, an NMDA receptor antagonist, reduces the incidence of cognitive deficits in rats treated with intrathecal methotrexate, and may therefore benefit patients with cancer receiving similar treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4446-4454
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 15 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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