JOURNAL ARTICLE

High Concentrations of Tranexamic Acid Inhibit Ionotropic Glutamate Receptors

Irene Lecker, Dian-Shi Wang, Kirusanthy Kaneshwaran, C David Mazer, Beverley A Orser
Anesthesiology 2017, 127 (1): 89-97
28475556

BACKGROUND: The antifibrinolytic drug tranexamic acid is structurally similar to the amino acid glycine and may cause seizures and myoclonus by acting as a competitive antagonist of glycine receptors. Glycine is an obligatory co-agonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) subtype of glutamate receptors. Thus, it is plausible that tranexamic acid inhibits NMDA receptors by acting as a competitive antagonist at the glycine binding site. The aim of this study was to determine whether tranexamic acid inhibits NMDA receptors, as well as α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid and kainate subtypes of ionotropic glutamate receptors.

METHODS: Tranexamic acid modulation of NMDA, α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid, and kainate receptors was studied using whole cell voltage-clamp recordings of current from cultured mouse hippocampal neurons.

RESULTS: Tranexamic acid rapidly and reversibly inhibited NMDA receptors (half maximal inhibitory concentration = 241 ± 45 mM, mean ± SD; 95% CI, 200 to 281; n = 5) and shifted the glycine concentration-response curve for NMDA-evoked current to the right. Tranexamic acid also inhibited α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptors (half maximal inhibitory concentration = 231 ± 91 mM; 95% CI, 148 to 314; n = 5 to 6) and kainate receptors (half maximal inhibitory concentration = 90 ± 24 mM; 95% CI, 68 to 112; n = 5).

CONCLUSIONS: Tranexamic acid inhibits NMDA receptors likely by reducing the binding of the co-agonist glycine and also inhibits α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid and kainate receptors. Receptor blockade occurs at high millimolar concentrations of tranexamic acid, similar to the concentrations that occur after topical application to peripheral tissues. Glutamate receptors in tissues including bone, heart, and nerves play various physiologic roles, and tranexamic acid inhibition of these receptors may contribute to adverse drug effects.

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