Glutamate transporters in the biology of malignant gliomas

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2014 May;71(10):1839-54. doi: 10.1007/s00018-013-1521-z. Epub 2013 Nov 27.


Malignant gliomas are relentless tumors that offer a dismal clinical prognosis. They develop many biological advantages that allow them to grow and survive in the unique environment of the brain. The glutamate transporters system x c (-) and excitatory amino acid transporters (EAAT) are emerging as key players in the biology and malignancy of these tumors. Gliomas manipulate glutamate transporter expression and function to alter glutamate homeostasis in the brain, which supports their own growth, invasion, and survival. As a consequence, malignant cells are able to quickly destroy and invade surrounding normal brain. Recent findings are painting a larger picture of these transporters in glioma biology, and as such are providing opportunities for clinical intervention for patients. This review will detail the current understanding of glutamate transporters in the biology of malignant gliomas and highlight some of the unique aspects of these tumors that make them so devastating and difficult to treat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG / chemistry
  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG / metabolism*
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Glioma / metabolism*
  • Glioma / pathology
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Glutamate / chemistry
  • Receptors, Glutamate / metabolism


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