Theanine, r-glutamylethylamide, increases neurotransmission concentrations and neurotrophin mRNA levels in the brain during lactation

Life Sci. 2007 Sep 29;81(16):1247-55. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2007.08.023. Epub 2007 Aug 31.


Theanine (r-glutamylethylamide) is one of the major amino acid components in green tea. Recent studies suggest that theanine affects neurotransmission, especially inhibitory neurotransmission. In this study, we investigated whether theanine affects brain development in infant rats, because inhibitory neurotransmission is required for mature brain function. Mother rats were fed theanine ad libitum after confinement. The body weight gain rate of infants was not different from control infants. We detected theanine in the infant serum and measured neurotransmitter concentration and nerve growth factor (NGF) mRNA level in the infant rat brain. Some neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, glycine and GABA concentration, increased in the infant brain and NGF mRNA level increased in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus. However, these differences were lost by the end of nerve maturity. These results suggest that theanine enhanced synthesis of nerve growth factor and neurotransmitters during a nerve maturing period and promoted central nerve system maturation (CNS). Thus, theanine accelerated maturation. In conclusion, theanine may assist in healthy brain function development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / blood
  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Brain* / drug effects
  • Brain* / growth & development
  • Brain* / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glutamates / isolation & purification
  • Glutamates / pharmacokinetics
  • Glutamates / pharmacology*
  • Lactation / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Milk / metabolism
  • Nerve Growth Factors / biosynthesis*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / biosynthesis*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tea / chemistry


  • Amino Acids
  • Glutamates
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tea
  • theanine