Neurochemical Research

, Volume 14, Issue 9, pp 889–897 | Cite as

Regional changes in the concentrations of glutamate, glycine, taurine, and GABA in the vitamin B-6 deficient developing rat brain: Association with neonatal seizures

  • Tomas R. Guilarte
Original Articles


It is well known that a dietary restriction of vitamin B-6 during gestation and lactation produces spontaneous seizures in neonatal animals. Since pyridoxal phosphate, one of the biologically active forms of vitamin B-6, is the cofactor for GAD the neonatal seizures have been attributed to low levels of brain GABA as a result of cofactor depletion. Although GABA levels are significantly lower in B-6 restricted neonatal rats with spontaneous seizures, seizure activity is not present in B-6 deficient adult rats or 28 day old rats in the present study, despite significantly low levels of brain GABA. These facts suggest that depletion of GABA is not the only biochemical alteration essential for the emergence of seizures. In the present study, the effect of vitamin B-6 undernutrition on the concentrations of the neuroactive amino acids, Glu, Gly, Tau, and GABA was determined in selected regions of the developing rat brain. The results show that the concentrations of Glu, Tau, and GABA were significantly lower and GLY significantly higher in selected brain regions of the B-6 restricted 14 day old rat compared to control tissue. Most of these changes were unique to 14 days of age, the time when spontaneous seizures are observed, and not present at 28 or 56 days of age when seizures are absent. This pattern of amino acid changes in the brain and the magnitude of the changes was consistent with those measured in a variety of chemically-induced animal models of epilepsy and in human epileptic foci. The regional distribution of amino acid changes was associated with brain regions which have been suggested to be responsible for the initiation and propagation of seizure activity. Two unique findings were also made in this study. First, there was a regional brain heterogeneity in the age-associated loss of brain Tau concentrations with the pons/medulla and substantia nigra appearing to be highly vulnerable and the hippocampus quite resistant to the loss of Tau. A second finding was the normalization of the neonatal GABA deficit in most brain regions by 56 days of age. The normalization of brain GABA was present in the face of continued dietary vitamin B-6 restriction. In summary, this study shows that the neuroactive amino acids Glu, Gly, Tau, and GABA are markedly altered in the seizure-prone vitamin B-6 restricted neonatal rat brain. The alterations in the brain concentration of Glu, Gly, and Tau may play an equally important role as GABA in the underlying mechanism of seizures associated with this condition.

Key Words

Seizures glutamate glycine taurine GABA brain regions neonatal vitamin B-6 deficiency 



Glutamic acid decarboxylase


gamma-aminobutyric acid








central nervous system








substantia nigra






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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tomas R. Guilarte
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Health SciencesThe Johns Hopkins University, School of Hygiene and Public HealthBaltimore

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