L-glutamate: a key amino acid for senory and metabolic functions

Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2016 Jun;66(2):101-112.


Glutamic acid or its ionic form L-glutamate (GLU) is one of the most abundant amino acids in nature and it plays important functions at the cellular and systemic levels. For instance, in the intestine and liver, GLU is a source of energy and is the precursor of key biological molecules. At the central nervous system of mammals, GLU acts as an excitatory neurotrausmitter due to the interaction with specific receptors. In addition, GLU has been related with short- and long-term potentiation, memory and the learning. Furthermore, consumption of GLU or its monosodium salt (monosodium glutamate, MSG) as a food additive is responsible for the umami taste. The consumption of MSG has been considered safe for different agencies responsible for the evaluation of the safe use of food additives, which have establish an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) "not specified", or classified as Generally Recognized Safe Substance (GRAS). This review focuses on important metabolic aspects of GLU and its role in food tasting and MSG safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Colon / metabolism
  • Food
  • Glutamic Acid / chemistry*
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Receptors, Ionotropic Glutamate / metabolism
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / metabolism
  • Taste / physiology*


  • Receptors, Ionotropic Glutamate
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate
  • Glutamic Acid