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Glia. 2012 May;60(6):882-93. doi: 10.1002/glia.22321. Epub 2012 Mar 5.

In vitro evidence for the brain glutamate efflux hypothesis: brain endothelial cells cocultured with astrocytes display a polarized brain-to-blood transport of glutamate.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacy, The Faculty of Medicines and Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.


The concentration of the excitotoxic amino acid, L-glutamate, in brain interstitial fluid is tightly regulated by uptake transporters and metabolism in astrocytes and neurons. The aim of this study was to investigate the possible role of the blood-brain barrier endothelium in brain L-glutamate homeostasis. Transendothelial transport- and accumulation studies of (3) H-L-glutamate, (3) H-L-aspartate, and (3) H-D-aspartate in an electrically tight bovine endothelial/rat astrocyte blood-brain barrier coculture model were performed. After 6 days in culture, the endothelium displayed transendothelial resistance values of 1014 ± 70 Ω cm(2) , and (14) C-D-mannitol permeability values of 0.88 ± 0.13 × 10(-6) cm s(-1) . Unidirectional flux studies showed that L-aspartate and L-glutamate, but not D-aspartate, displayed polarized transport in the brain-to-blood direction, however, all three amino acids accumulated in the cocultures when applied from the abluminal side. The transcellular transport kinetics were characterized with a K(m) of 69 ± 15 μM and a J(max) of 44 ± 3.1 pmol min(-1) cm(-2) for L-aspartate and a K(m) of 138 ± 49 μM and J(max) of 28 ± 3.1 pmol min(-1) cm(-2) for L-glutamate. The EAAT inhibitor, DL-threo-ß-Benzyloxyaspartate, inhibited transendothelial brain-to-blood fluxes of L-glutamate and L-aspartate. Expression of EAAT-1 (Slc1a3), -2 (Slc1a2), and -3 (Slc1a1) mRNA in the endothelial cells was confirmed by conventional PCR and localization of EAAT-1 and -3 in endothelial cells was shown with immunofluorescence. Overall, the findings suggest that the blood-brain barrier itself may participate in regulating brain L-glutamate concentrations.

Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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