Excitotoxin Mediated Neuronal Loss and the Regulation of Excitatory Amino Acid Release in the Aging Brain

  • Ralph DawsonJr.
  • Michael J. Meldrum
  • David R. Wallace
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 36)


The aging brain is characterized by a decrease in weight and concomitant loss of neurons1,2. The exact causes and mechanisms for neuronal loss in aging and age-related neurodegenerative diseases are largely unknown. Recent studies have shown that in ischemic, hypoxic and hypoglycemic-induced neuronal loss, the necrotic changes are due to an excess release of excitatory amino acids (glutamate, GLU: aspartate, ASP: etc.)3,4,5. The ability of competitive and noncompetitive antagonists to block or ameliorate neuronal cell death induced by excitatory amino acids has further served to confirm the specificity and importance of receptor-mediated excitotoxicity6,7,8. Therefore, in the central nervous system excessive or unregulated release of excitatory amino acids appears to be a predominate mechanism mediating neuronal death.


Excitatory Amino Acid Kainic Acid Quinolinic Acid Glutaminase Activity Amino Acid Release 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph DawsonJr.
    • 1
  • Michael J. Meldrum
    • 1
  • David R. Wallace
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacodynamics, College of PharmacyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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