New Role of Glutamate as an Immunoregulator via Glutamate Receptors and Transporters

Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2011 Jun 1;3:1007-20. doi: 10.2741/205.


Accumulating evidence suggests that the amino acid glutamate (Glu) may play a role in mediating immune function. The demonstration of Glu receptors (GluR) and Glu transporters (GluT) on a variety of immune cells suggests that Glu has a functional role in immunoregulation well beyond its role as a neurotransmitter. The extracellular Glu concentration plays a key role in the regulation of GSH synthesis in immune cells via 2 key GluTs (i.e., Xc- and X-AG systems). Emerging evidence also suggests a role of Glu as signaling molecule in immune cells via ionotropic GluRs (iGluRs) and metabotropic GluRs (mGluRs). In vitro, extracellular Glu concentration has been shown to exert a dose-dependent regulation on lymphocyte activation/proliferation. Specifically, Given the exceedingly high intestinal Glu concentration, these finding are suggestive of a potential role for Glu in modulating immune function and promoting tolerance in the gut associated lymphoid tissues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG / metabolism*
  • Dendritic Cells
  • Glutamic Acid / immunology*
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Glutathione / biosynthesis*
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Receptors, Glutamate / metabolism*


  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Glutathione