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GABA synthesis in brain slices is dependent on glutamine produced in astrocytes


The rate of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) synthesis in rat-brain slices was determined by inhibiting GABA transaminase with 20-μM gabaculine and measuring the increase of GABA. Added 500-μM glutamine increased the rate of GABA synthesis by 50%, indicating that glutamate decarboxylase is not saturated in brain slices. The stimulation of GABA synthesis with added glutamine in brain slices was much less than that reported for synaptosomes. The lower stimulation in slices was attributable to astrocytic glutamine production, as the rate of GABA synthesis decreased by 44% when glutamine production was inhibited with methionine sulfoximine. Added glutamine restored the rate to the maximal value observed in brain slices. The rate of GABA synthesis was decreased by 65% in slices pretreated with an inhibitor of glutaminase, and added glutamine did not reverse this effect. These results suggest that glutamine produced by astrocytes is a quantitatively important precursor of GABA synthesis in cortical slices.

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Battaglioli, G., Martin, D.L. GABA synthesis in brain slices is dependent on glutamine produced in astrocytes. Neurochem Res 16, 151–156 (1991).

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Key Words

  • GABA synthesis
  • gabaculine
  • glutamine
  • methionine sulfoximine
  • 6-diazo-5-oxonorleucine
  • glutamine cycle