Excitatory amino acids and synaptic transmission: the evidence for a physiological function

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 1990 May;11(5):205-11. doi: 10.1016/0165-6147(90)90116-p.


For 30 years physiological techniques have been used to investigate excitatory amino acids as neurotransmitters. In the last ten years progress on the definition of receptor subtypes and the availability of more selective agonists and antagonists has fuelled physiological, neurochemical and histochemical approaches to elucidating the involvement of excitatory amino acids at synaptic sites throughout the vertebrate CNS. Here Max Headley and Sten Grillner assess the advances made in defining the roles of excitatory amino acids as functional transmitters, taking examples mainly from studies on the spinal cord, and comment on the limitations of the types of approach that are used in such studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission*


  • Amino Acids
  • Neurotransmitter Agents