Amino Acids

, Volume 47, Issue 10, pp 2113–2126 | Cite as

Autophagy and amino acid metabolism in the brain: implications for epilepsy

  • Eloy Bejarano
  • José Antonio Rodríguez-NavarroEmail author
Review Article


Autophagy is a catabolic pathway responsible for the maintenance of the tissue and organism homeostasis. Several amino acids regulate autophagic activity in different tissues, such as liver and muscle, but much less is known about this regulation in the brain. The lack of autophagy in neurons leads to a strong neurodegenerative phenotype and epileptic disorders. We summarize the current knowledge about the regulation of autophagy mediated by amino acids and how macroautophagy could serve as source of amino acids. We review the contribution of macroautophagy in the brain physiology and pathology emphasizing the relevancy of the proper control of amino acid levels such as glutamate and GABA in the brain due to its role as neurotransmitters and energy source. Furthermore, we discuss how malfunction in autophagy may result in pathological consequences, because many genetic epileptic disorders are related to signaling or metabolic pathways controlling both macroautophagy and amino acid metabolism in the brain.


Macroautophagy Leucine Glutamine Epilepsy Ketogenic diet mTOR 



We thank Dr. Ana Maria Cuervo PhD for her invaluable help and support. JARN is supported by Charles H. Revson Senior Fellows in Biomedical Science Program, the Miguel Servet Program of the National Institute of Health Carlos III of Spain and the MINECO Grant SAF2013-45570.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eloy Bejarano
    • 1
  • José Antonio Rodríguez-Navarro
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Developmental and Molecular BiologyAlbert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA
  2. 2.Servicio de Neurobiología, Departamento de Investigación, Hospital Ramón y CajalInstituto Ramon y Cajal de Investigaciones SanitariasMadridSpain

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