The Role of Glutamine Homeostasis in Emotional and Cognitive Functions

Int J Mol Sci. 2024 Jan 21;25(2):1302. doi: 10.3390/ijms25021302.


Glutamine (Gln), a non-essential amino acid, is synthesized de novo by glutamine synthetase (GS) in various organs. In the brain, GS is exclusively expressed in astrocytes under normal physiological conditions, producing Gln that takes part in glutamatergic neurotransmission through the glutamate (Glu)-Gln cycle. Because the Glu-Gln cycle and glutamatergic neurotransmission play a pivotal role in normal brain activity, maintaining Gln homeostasis in the brain is crucial. Recent findings indicated that a neuronal Gln deficiency in the medial prefrontal cortex in rodents led to depressive behaviors and mild cognitive impairment along with lower glutamatergic neurotransmission. In addition, exogenous Gln supplementation has been tested for its ability to overcome neuronal Gln deficiency and reverse abnormal behaviors induced by chronic immobilization stress (CIS). Although evidence is accumulating as to how Gln supplementation contributes to normalizing glutamatergic neurotransmission and the Glu-Gln cycle, there are few reviews on this. In this review, we summarize recent evidence demonstrating that Gln supplementation ameliorates CIS-induced deleterious changes, including an imbalance of the Glu-Gln cycle, suggesting that Gln homeostasis is important for emotional and cognitive functions. This is the first review of detailed mechanistic studies on the effects of Gln supplementation on emotional and cognitive functions.

Keywords: cognitive impairment; depressive disorder; glutamatergic neurotransmission; glutamine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Cognition
  • Glutamic Acid* / metabolism
  • Glutamine* / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism


  • Glutamine
  • Glutamic Acid