Neuroprotective attributes of L-theanine, a bioactive amino acid of tea, and its potential role in Parkinson's disease therapeutics

Neurochem Int. 2019 Oct:129:104478. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2019.104478. Epub 2019 May 27.


Meta-analyses of tea consumption and reduced risk of Parkinson's disease have thrown light in the pathway of exploring beneficial properties of tea components. On the basis of dry mass, a typical black or green tea beverage contains approximately 6% of free amino acids, which impart high quality, taste and distinctive aroma to the tea infusion. L-theanine (chemically known as γ-glutamylethylamide) is a non-proteinogenic amino acid of tea that takes part in the biosynthesis of its polyphenols. Recently discovered neuroprotective effects of L-theanine can be attributed to its structural analogy with glutamate, the principal excitatory neurotransmitter in brain. This unique amino acid also bears a potential to ameliorate the pathophysiological changes associated with Parkinson's disease as it displays antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, improves motor behavioral abnormalities, increases dopamine availability and may cause a favorable downshift in neurodegeneration due to glutamate excitotoxicity. To gain an explicit understanding of the role of L-theanine, this review article is the first one to focus on its mechanism of neuromodulatory action and to critically evaluate the possibilities of employing this bioactive amide in the forage of anti-Parkinsonian medication. We also hypothesize the idea of L-theanine being a potent natural agent against L-DOPA induced dyskinesia, since long-term reliance on dopamine replacement therapy is linked with elevation in glutamate receptor activity.

Keywords: AMPA; Excitotoxicity; Glutamate; L-DOPA induced dyskinesia; L-theanine; NMDA; Neuroprotection; Parkinson's disease; Tea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Glutamates / pharmacology*
  • Glutamic Acid / drug effects
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Tea


  • Glutamates
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Tea
  • Glutamic Acid
  • theanine