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, 12 (8), 471-85

Glutamate in Neurologic Diseases


Glutamate in Neurologic Diseases

P Bittigau et al. J Child Neurol.


Excitotoxicity has been implicated as a mechanism of neuronal death in acute and chronic neurologic diseases. Cerebral ischemia, head and spinal cord injury, and prolonged seizure activity are associated with excessive release of glutamate into the extracellular space and subsequent neurotoxicity. Accumulating evidence suggests that impairment of intracellular energy metabolism increases neuronal vulnerability to glutamate which, even when present at physiologic concentrations, can damage neurons. This mechanism of slow excitotoxicity may be involved in neuronal death in chronic neurodegenerative diseases such as the mitochondrial encephalomyopathies, Huntington's disease, spinocerebellar degeneration syndromes, and motor neuron diseases. If so, glutamate antagonists in combination with agents that selectively inhibit the multiple steps downstream of the excitotoxic cascade or help improve intracellular energy metabolism may slow the neurodegenerative process and offer a therapeutic approach to treat these disorders.

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