[Glutamic Acid as a Universal Extracellular Signal]

Nihon Shinkei Seishin Yakurigaku Zasshi. 2015 Aug;35(4):81-8.
[Article in Japanese]


The prevailing view is that both glutamic (Glu) and gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) acids play a role as an amino acid neurotransmitter released from neurons. However, little attention has been paid to the possible expression and functionality of signaling machineries required for amino acidergic neurotransmission in cells other than central neurons. In line with our first demonstration of the presence of Glu receptors outside the brain, in this review I will outline our recent findings accumulated since then on the physiological and pathological significance of neuronal amino acids as an extracellular signal essential for homeostasis in a variety of phenotypic cells. In undifferentiated neural progenitor cells, for instance, functional expression is seen with different signaling machineries used for glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission in neurons. Moreover, Glu plays a role in mechanisms underlying suppression of proliferation for self-replication in undifferentiated mesenchymal stem cells. There is more accumulating evidence for neuronal amino acids playing a role as an extracellular autocrine or paracrine signal commonly used in different phenotypic cells. Evaluation of drugs currently used could be thus beneficial for the efficient prophylaxis and/or the therapy of a variety of diseases relevant to disturbance of amino acid signaling in diverse organs.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Extracellular Space / physiology
  • Glutamic Acid / physiology*
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neural Stem Cells / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology*
  • Receptors, Glutamate / analysis
  • Receptors, Glutamate / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Glutamic Acid
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid