The role of glutamate in neurotransmission and in neurologic disease

Arch Neurol. 1986 Oct;43(10):1058-63. doi: 10.1001/archneur.1986.00520100062016.


Glutamate is the putative neurotransmitter of several clinically important pathways, including cortical association fibers, corticofugal pathways such as the pyramidal tract, and hippocampal, cerebellar, and spinal cord pathways. The excitatory actions of glutamate are mediated by multiple, distinct receptor types and potent receptor antagonists have recently been developed. Glutamate also has neurotoxic properties and can produce "excitotoxic" lesions reminiscent of human neurodegenerative disorders. Abnormally enhanced glutamatergic neurotransmission may cause excitotoxic cell damage and lead to the neuronal death associated with olivopontocerebellar atrophy, Huntington's disease, status epilepticus, hypoxia/ischemia, and hypoglycemia. Pharmacologic manipulation of the glutamatergic system may have great potential for the rational treatment of a variety of neurologic diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Glutamates / metabolism
  • Glutamates / physiology*
  • Glutamates / toxicity
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / drug effects
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents*
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / drug effects


  • Glutamates
  • Ion Channels
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter
  • Glutamic Acid