Neurotoxic amino acids and structurally related analogs

J. S. Kizer, C. B. Nemeroff, W. W. Youngblood

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Monosodium glutamate and its related straight-chain and heterocyclic analogs are neurotoxic for rodents and some fowl and appear to possess the peculiar property of interacting with membrane receptors on dendritic and somal elements of neurons to induce their destruction and necrosis attended by profound membrane depolarization. The peculiar properties of these compounds do not appear to be secondary to their active metabolism or uptake, but are probably due to a specific membrane effect which may partially depend on acute alterations in sodium and potassium conductances. It should be reiterated that the toxicity of monosodium glutamate and its analogs for primates has not been proven but it seems only prudent to avoid those compounds in clinical situations unless medically demanded. Finally, the greatest potential for the neurotoxic amino acids is their use as biological research tools in the study of neuronal physiology within the CNS. These compounds may help to generate useful animal models such diverse diseases as Huntington's chorea, Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, sulfite oxidase deficiency and perhaps homocystinuria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-318
Number of pages18
JournalPharmacological Reviews
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1977
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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