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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effect of impact trauma on neurotransmitter and nonneurotransmitter amino acids in rat spinal cord.

N-Methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) administration exacerbates neurological dysfunction after traumatic spinal cord injury in rats, whereas NMDA antagonists improve outcome in this model. These observations suggest that release of excitatory amino acids contributes to secondary tissue damage after traumatic spinal cord injury. To further examine this hypothesis, concentrations of free amino acids were measured in spinal cord samples from anesthetized rats subjected to various degrees of impact trauma to the T9 spinal segment. Levels of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter amino acids [gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate, aspartate, glycine, taurine] and levels of nonneurotransmitter amino acids (asparagine, glutamine, alanine, threonine, serine) were determined at 5 min, 4 h, and 24 h posttrauma. Uninjured surgical (laminectomy) control animals showed modest but significant declines in aspartate and glutamate levels, but not in other amino acids, at all time points. In injured animals, the excitatory amino acids glutamate and aspartate were significantly decreased by 5 min posttrauma, and remained depressed at 4 h and 24 h as compared with corresponding laminectomy controls. In contrast, the inhibitory amino acids, glycine, GABA, and taurine, were decreased at 5 min postinjury, had partially recovered at 4 h, and were almost fully recovered at 24 h. The nonneurotransmitter amino acids were unchanged at 5 min posttrauma and significantly increased at 4 h, with partial recovery at 24 h. At 4 h postinjury, severe trauma caused significantly greater decreases in aspartate and glutamate than did either mild or moderate injury. These findings are consistent with the postulated role of excitatory amino acids in CNS trauma.[1]


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