Collect. Czech. Chem. Commun. 2001, 66, 1315-1340

Neurochemistry of L-Glutamate Transport in the CNS: A Review of Thirty Years of Progress

Vladimir J. Balcar*, Akiko Takamoto and Yukio Yoneda

Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kanazawa University, 13-1 Takara-machi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0934, Japan


The review highlights the landmark studies leading from the discovery and initial characterization of the Na+-dependent "high affinity" uptake in the mammalian brain to the cloning of individual transporters and the subsequent expansion of the field into the realm of molecular biology. When the data and hypotheses from 1970's are confronted with the recent developments in the field, we can conclude that the suggestions made nearly thirty years ago were essentially correct: the uptake, mediated by an active transport into neurons and glial cells, serves to control the extracellular concentrations of L-glutamate and prevents the neurotoxicity. The modern techniques of molecular biology may have provided additional data on the nature and location of the transporters but the classical neurochemical approach, using structural analogues of glutamate designed as specific inhibitors or substrates for glutamate transport, has been crucial for the investigations of particular roles that glutamate transport might play in health and disease. Analysis of recent structure/activity data presented in this review has yielded a novel insight into the pharmacological characteristics of L-glutamate transport, suggesting existence of additional heterogeneity in the system, beyond that so far discovered by molecular genetics. More compounds that specifically interact with individual glutamate transporters are urgently needed for more detailed investigations of neurochemical characteristics of glutamatergic transport and its integration into the glutamatergic synapses in the central nervous system. A review with 162 references.

Keywords: Amino acids; L-Glutamate; Neurotransmitters; Neurotoxins; Membrane transport; Structure-activity relationship.

References: 162 live references.