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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 3 (2010), Issue 1, Pages 13-22

Clinical Physiology and Mechanism of Dizocilpine (MK-801): Electron Transfer, Radicals, Redox Metabolites and Bioactivity

1Department of Chemistry, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA
2Centro de Graduados e Investigación del Instituto Tecnológico de Tijuana, Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

Received 12 August 2009; Accepted 9 September 2009

Copyright © 2010 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Dizocilpine (MK-801), an extensively investigated drug possessing secondary amine and benzenoid functions, displays a wide array of biological properties, including anticonvulsant and anesthetic. There is scant discussion of biomechanism. A relevant, important finding is formation of oxidative metabolites in the hydroxylamine and phenolic categories. Analogy to cocaine metabolites suggests participation of redox entities, such as, hydroxylamine, nitroxide and nitrosonium, which can lead to electron transfer and radical formation. There is also similarity to metabolism by 3,3′-iminodipropionitrile and phencyclidine. Alternatively, the phenolic metabolites are well-known precursors of ET quinones. The review documents various physiological effects, mainly involving the central nervous system. Also of interest are the pro- and anti-oxidant properties. Considerable attention has been paid to MK-801 as an antagonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor in the glutamate category. This aspect is often associated with effects on the central nervous system. The review also provides recent literature dealing with MK-801/NMDA receptor in various areas of bioactivity. Studies were made of MK-801 involvement in working memory processing. Deficits in behavior were noted after administration of the drug. Treatment of mice with dizocilpine induced learning impairment. The influence of MK-801 on fear has been investigated. The substance is known to exert an analgesic effect in pain control. A number of reports deal with anesthetic properties.