Concentrations of GABA and glycine in discrete brain nuclei. Stress-induced changes in the levels of inhibitory amino acids

Neuropharmacology. 1986 Jul;25(7):703-9. doi: 10.1016/0028-3908(86)90085-7.


Concentrations of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glycine and serine have been measured in 44 microdissected areas of the brain of the rat. All three amino acids were ubiquitously present and distributed unevenly in the brain. Very high levels of GABA were found in the anterior hypothalamic and medial preoptic nuclei and the substantia nigra; high levels were found in the interpeduncular and red nuclei in the mesencephalon and in several hypothalamic nuclei. Glycine was distributed fairly uniformly with large concentrations in certain lower brainstem nuclei. In these areas, the concentrations of glycine exceeded those of serine, while the serine-glycine ratio was 4.5:1 in the caudate nucleus, 4:1 in the cerebellum and 2.5:1 in the cerebral cortical areas. Acute stress induced with formalin (pain) resulted in a significant depletion of levels of GABA in the hypothalamus and the lower brainstem but not in the cortical areas. In the same animals, concentrations of glycine doubled in the cerebral cortex and remained unchanged elsewhere in the brain. Increased motor and behavioral activity after the acute administration of a large dose of amphetamine were associated with a 2-5-fold increase in the levels of glycine in brain, and markedly elevated the concentrations of GABA in the major biogenic amine-containing cell groups only (substantia nigra, locus coeruleus and dorsal raphe).

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Glycine / analysis*
  • Male
  • Postmortem Changes
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Serine / analysis
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / analysis*


  • Serine
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Glycine