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Review
, 93, 110-9

Mechanisms of Glycine Release, Which Build Up Synaptic and Extrasynaptic Glycine Levels: The Role of Synaptic and Non-Synaptic Glycine Transporters

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Review

Mechanisms of Glycine Release, Which Build Up Synaptic and Extrasynaptic Glycine Levels: The Role of Synaptic and Non-Synaptic Glycine Transporters

Laszlo G Harsing Jr et al. Brain Res Bull.

Abstract

Glycine is an amino acid neurotransmitter that is involved in both inhibitory and excitatory neurochemical transmission in the central nervous system. The role of glycine in excitatory neurotransmission is related to its coagonist action at glutamatergic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors. The glycine levels in the synaptic cleft rise many times higher during synaptic activation assuring that glycine spills over into the extrasynaptic space. Another possible origin of extrasynaptic glycine is the efflux of glycine occurring from astrocytes associated with glutamatergic synapses. The release of glycine from neuronal or glial origins exhibits several differences compared to that of biogenic amines or other amino acid neurotransmitters. These differences appear in an external Ca(2+)- and temperature-dependent manner, conferring unique characteristics on glycine as a neurotransmitter. Glycine transporter type-1 at synapses may exhibit neural and glial forms and plays a role in controlling synaptic glycine levels and the spill over rate of glycine from the synaptic cleft into the extrasynaptic biophase. Non-synaptic glycine transporter type-1 regulates extrasynaptic glycine concentrations, either increasing or decreasing them depending on the reverse or normal mode operation of the carrier molecule. While we can, at best, only estimate synaptic glycine levels at rest and during synaptic activation, glycine concentrations are readily measurable via brain microdialysis technique applied in the extrasynaptic space. The non-synaptic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor may obtain glycine for activation following its spill over from highly active synapses or from its release mediated by the reverse operation of non-synaptic glycine transporter-1. The sensitivity of non-synaptic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors to glutamate and glycine is many times higher than that of synaptic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors making the former type of receptor the primary target for drug action. Synaptic and non-synaptic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors mediate different neural functions, many of which are not clearly defined at present. Non-synaptic glycine transporter-1 and its blockade by inhibitory drugs may be important in drug therapy interventions, such as for reducing negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

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