Direct immunocytochemical evidence for the transfer of glutamine from glial cells to neurons: use of specific antibodies directed against the d-stereoisomers of glutamate and glutamine

Neuroscience. 1996 Jan;70(1):295-302. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(95)00363-n.


We have raised antibodies against D-stereoisomers of the amino acids glutamate and glutamine. These stereoisomers are not naturally occurring in mammals but can be taken up into cells by transporters that normally handle the endogenous L-amino acids. Exposure of isolated rabbit retinae to 50 microM D-glutamate resulted in a strong accumulation of D-glutamate, and hence immunoreactivity for D-glutamate in radial glial cells (Müller cells). By contrast the glutamatergic ganglion cells exhibited no immunoreactivity for D-glutamate. D-Glutamate can be converted into D-glutamine by the glial enzyme glutamine synthetase. Immunolabelling for D-glutamine revealed the presence of D-glutamine in somata of subsets of neurons including the glutamatergic ganglion cells. Labelling was also present in the inner plexiform layer, possibly indicating labelling of neuronal processes. These data indicate that after D-glutamate has been taken up into glial cells it is converted into D-glutamine. This D-glutamine is then exported from the glial cells and taken up by a subset of neurons, including the glutamatergic ganglion cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Glutamine / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neuroglia / metabolism*
  • Rabbits
  • Retina / metabolism*


  • Glutamine
  • Glutamic Acid