Receptors for Amino Acid Transmitters

  • S. Robert Snodgrass
Part of the Handbook of Psychopharmacology book series (HBKPS)


This chapter will review plasma membrane receptors for amino acids which are or may be neurotransmitters. Our focus will be on the mammalian brain, with brief consideration of simpler animals and peripheral nervous tissue. Although the number of amino acid transmitters is not known at present, it is convenient to divide neuroactive amino acids into excitatory and inhibitory transmitters. This traditional approach must be viewed with some skepticism. Invertebrate experience clearly indicates that the same molecule may mediate excitation, inhibition, or mixtures of both, depending upon the nature of the postsynaptic receptor which it encounters (Blankenship et al., 1971; Gerschenfeld, 1973; Swann and Carpenter, 1975; Walker et al., 1975; Carpenter et al., 1977). The notion that GABA is always inhibitory and glutamate is always excitatory in the mammalian CNS derives from the earliest studies, which utilized extracellular recording. It will soon require modification. Evidence is accumulating that GABA can produce either depolarizing or hyperpolarizing responses, when studied by intracellular recording (Brown et al., 1980; Assaf et al., 1981). GABA has been known to produce depolarizing responses in sympathetic ganglia for some years (Bowery and Brown, 1974), but depolarizing GABA responses remain of uncertain importance in the mammalian CNS.


Excitatory Amino Acid Gaba Receptor Kainic Acid Glycine Receptor Amino Acid Neurotransmitter 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Robert Snodgrass
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeurologyUniversity of Southern California, Children’s Hospital of Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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