Theanine, gamma-glutamylethylamide, a unique amino acid in tea leaves, modulates neurotransmitter concentrations in the brain striatum interstitium in conscious rats

Amino Acids. 2009 Jan;36(1):21-7. doi: 10.1007/s00726-007-0020-7. Epub 2008 Jan 15.


Theanine (gamma-glutamylethylamide) is one of the major amino acid components in green tea and can pass through the blood-brain barrier. Recent studies suggest that theanine affects the mammalian central nervous system; however, the detailed mechanism remains unclear. In this study, we demonstrated the effect of theanine on neurotransmission in the brain striatum by in vivo brain microdialysis. Theanine injection into the rat brain striatum did not increase the concentration of excitatory neurotransmitters in the perfusate. On the other hand, theanine injection increased the concentration of glycine in the perfusate. Because it has been reported that theanine promotes dopamine release in the rat striatum, we investigated the glycine and dopamine concentrations in the perfusate. Co-injection of glycine receptor antagonist, strychnine, reduced theanine-induced changes in dopamine. Moreover, AMPA receptor antagonist, which regulates glycine and GABA release from glia cells, inhibited these effects of theanine and this result was in agreement with the known inhibitory effect of theanine at AMPA receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Consciousness*
  • Glutamates / chemistry
  • Glutamates / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Molecular Structure
  • Neostriatum / drug effects*
  • Neostriatum / metabolism*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Glutamate / metabolism
  • Receptors, Glycine / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Glycine / metabolism
  • Tea / chemistry*


  • Glutamates
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Receptors, Glycine
  • Tea
  • theanine