Tag Archives: glutamate

Amino Acid: Glutamate in Stroke Treatment

Preventing brain damage after stroke is the primary goal for stroke treatment. Understanding the balance of brain chemicals—which include amino acids like glutamate (salt/ester of glutamic acid)—can help scientists develop new, successful treatments for stroke. 

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide. This dangerous condition occurs when the supply of blood to the brain is disturbed. With ischemic strokes, blood supply is decreased (possibly by a blood clot), and rapidly leads to loss of brain function. Stroke can lead to permanent brain damage, when the neurons in the brain are destroyed.

Neurons are nerve cells which transmit information in our central nervous system, which includes our brain. Neuroprotection is the name for treatments which prevent, or slow, the progression of stroke by preventing the loss of neurons. It is also used to treat other central nervous system disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injury.

Dr. Myron Ginsberg published an interesting review on ischemic stroke in Neuropharmacology. Dr. Ginsberg, from the Department of Neurology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, in Miami, Florida, covered many experimental neuroprotective treatments, including glutamate antagonism.

The role of glutamate role in treatment for stroke

The amino acid glutamate—sometimes known as or associated with glutamic acid—is one of our brain’s our main excitatory neurotransmitters. Glutamate is involved in cognitive functions such as learning and memory.  But with stroke, excess glutamate can accumulate in the brain. This allows calcium ions to enter the cells. This process is called excitotoxicity, and it causes neuron damage and brain cell death.

Glutamate and other excitatory amino acids interact with receptor-classes, such as N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA). Animal studies suggest that treatments which block NMDA receptors could be successful in preventing brain damage after stroke, but only with very early administration. Human trials have not yet been completed.

As further research continues into the role of neurotransmitting amino acids and stroke, it’s possible that a successful neuroprotective treatment using glutamate could be developed.



Glutamate and GABA and How They Relate to Seizures

What do Glutamate, GABA, and Glutamine have in common? The former two amino acid have antiseizure properties, but although L-glutamine is an amino acid, it is sometimes confused with glutamate. What is the difference and how do these relate to seizures?

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a non-essential amino acid used for aiding sleep and anti-anxiety or seizures.

Glutamate (glutamic acid) is a proteinogenic non-essential amino acid and is an important neurotransmitter and is connected to seizures. I will go into this more later.

Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid and also the most abundantly fee amino acid. Glutamine is often used for treating trauma, burns, and for wound healing, but not necessarily for seizures.

Now that we know what glutamine is, we will move on to GABA and glutamate and how they have the role of being antiseizure agents.

GABA and glutamate for treating seizures

According to Dr. J., glutamic acid (glutamate) is the principal neurotransmitter, but that “MSG (monosodium glutamate), whose parent protein is glutamic acid, is used as a flavor enhancer due to it neurostimulating effect on the taste buds. When it reaches the brain, it induces migraines, seizures, the ‘MSG rush’, and lowers the pain threshold (e.g. people with fibromyalgia or other chronic pain syndromes).”

In cases of epilepsy, Dr. J. reports that one woman stopped seizing once on The GARD (Glutamate & Aspartate Restricted Diet) only after she stopped eating cashews, which are known to be a source of glutamate. He says, “It is ‘interesting’ that some of the new anticonvulsants work by blocking glutamate.”

GABA is well known as the amino acid with GABAergic and GABA receptor properties and is consistently correlated with reduced functional responses, which is why it is used to help induce sleep, relaxation, is anti-anxiety and antiseizure in its effects.

In a study called “Associations of regional GABA and glutamate with intrinsic and extrinsic neural activity in humans—A review of multimodal imaging studies” the researchers Niall W. Duncan, Christine Wiebking, and Georg Northoff studied the modalities for multiple imaging of the human brain.

The researchers admit that the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate are particularly excellent amino acids for such studies because the transmitters exist throughout the brain’s cortex in the inhibition/excitation balance, but they say, “How these transmitters underly functional responses measured with techniques such as fMRI and EEG remains unclear.” Hence, the study.

They report that the literature available showed consistent negative correlations “between GABA concentrations and stimulus-induced activity” as well as “positive correlation between glutamate concentrations and inter-regional activity relationships, both during tasks and rest.”

The scientists concluded that both biochemical and functional imaging of human brains show a combining of information, which does “require a number of key methodological and interpretive issues be addressed before can meet its potential.”

Overall, both GABA and glutamate are correlated with suppression or elimination of seizures in epileptic and other patients, but more research is needed as to just how this works.





Amino Acids and Gut Health – Glutamine and Other Aminos

There are a number of amino acids that affect the intestines and are necessary for proper functioning. Several amino acids and gut health are connected; in particular, glutamine (which I will cover more in-depth below), arginine, glutamate, glycine, threonine, lysine, as well as sulfur-containing aminos. These amino acids and gut functioning are important because they act as fuels for mucosa in the small intestine, and also for the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO), intestinal proteins, polyamines, and other products that are necessary for health. Amino acids come from protein foods like meats, fish, and eggs, or from taking supplements. 

What this means—according to a study by WW Wang, SY Quiao, and DF Li—is that glutamine and the other amino acids and gut-promoting effects from these aminos are not only “critical for the absorption of nutrients” but also are required for the “gut integrity, growth, and health in animals and humans.”

The researchers show that amino acids and gut health, in particular, indicate both trophic and cytoprotective effects. Trophic means relating to feeding and nutrition, and cytoprotective means it protects the cells from noxious chemicals and other things that would otherwise bother the intestinal tract and cause health problems.

Amino acids and gut health includes glutamine

According to the researchers RR van der Hulst, MF von Meyenfeldt, and PB Soeters, one of the essential amino acids and gut nutrients is glutamine. This non-essential amino acid (meaning your body can produce it, even though you can also get it through protein foods and supplements), is “an important nutrient for rapidly dividing cells such as cells from the immune system and the gut.”

There are a few conditions that can also cause a lack of glutamine, which can, according to the scientists, result in “functional disturbances of the immune system and/or the gut. Glutamine is produced mainly by the muscle tissue. A decrease in muscle mass during nutritional depletion may result in decreased glutamine production capacity. Furthermore during critical illness, there is an increased demand for glutamine probably as a result of an increased utilization by the immune system.”

Additionally, glutamine as one of the amino acids and gut nutritives, is important because it prevents toxins and/or bacteria from migrating from the gut lumen (the hollow part of the intestine) into the circulation of the system. Not having enough glutamine can deteriorate this barrier within the intestine and would, in this case, require supplementation of glutamine.

Lastly, glutamine (or other amino acids and gut health) may need to be supplemented in case of nutritional depletion, parenteral nutrition, or even critical illness.




The Importance of GABA Amino Acid for the Central Nervous System

The human central nervous system is controlled by the brain. The brain’s neurotransmitters and receptor sites are affected either by how inhibited or excited the amino acids GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and glutamate (glutamic acid) are. Of all the neurotransmitters within the central nervous system, amino acids are considered some of the most plenteous.

Steven M Paul write about “GABA and Glycine” and their role in the central nervous system. Amino acids have been shown in studies, he says, to “support current dogma that the majority of neurons in the mammalian brain utilize either glutamate or g-aminobutyric acid (GABA) as their primary neurotransmitters. [And] … GABA and glutamate serve to regulate the excitability of virtually all neurons in brain and, not surprisingly, therefore have been implicated as important mediators of many critical physiological as well as pathophysiological events that underlie brain function and/or dysfunction.”

There are studies in pharmacology on utilizing drugs that either block or enhance what GABA or glutamate, which according to Steven M Paul, supports that these neurotransmitters “by virtue of their often opposing excitatory and inhibitory actions, control, to a large degree, the overall excitability” of the central nervous system.

What this means, is that drugs (such as for schizophrenia, neurological diseases, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) that inhibit what GABA does may decrease what glutamate may excite, or vice versa. This means there needs to be a balance between inhibition and excitation in the “drugs which are known to alter GABAergic or glutamatergic neurotransmission).”

GABA amino acid is important to the central nervous system and spinal column

In a study done by J Yowtak, J Wang, et al., at the Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology at the University of Texas, the neuropathic pain model in mice was studied regarding the antioxidant treatment on GABA neurons in the spinal column. The researchers suggested “that oxidative stress impaired some spinal GABA neuron activity in the neuropathic pain condition. Together the data suggest that neuropathic pain, at least partially, is attributed to oxidative stress which induces both a GABA neuron loss and dysfunction of surviving GABA neurons.”

Between the study above and the one spoken of by Steven M Paul, it is likely that all of the updated information on GABA, glutamate, or glycine will hopefully, as Paul states, “result in an even better understanding of their potential role(s) in various neuropsychiatric disorders and in the discovery even more of effective therapeutic agents.”

Certainly our central nervous system is dependent upon GABA and these other amino acids. It is no wonder that they are used in pharmaceutical drugs to enhance and inhibit certain neurotransmitters to help the body function properly.