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Brain Res. 1989 Aug 14;494(2):315-24.

Brain amino acid concentrations and Ca2+-dependent release in intractable depression assessed antemortem.

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  • 1Miriam Marks Department of Neurochemistry, Institute of Neurology, London, U.K.


The concentrations of 3 putative neurotransmitters (glutamate, aspartate and gamma-aminobutyrate), 4 related amino acids and 5 non-transmitter-related amino acids have been measured in neurosurgical samples (frontal cortex) from patients with intractable depression and controls. In addition, the glutamate receptor agonist 2-amino-4-sulpho-butanoic acid (homocysteic acid) has been identified in human brain and measured in these samples. There were no changes in the concentrations of amino acids in depressed patients compared to control with the exception of aspartic and homocysteic acids which were elevated in a sub-group of patients with depression compared to control. The Ca2+-dependent release (K+-stimulated) of putative neurotransmitters has been demonstrated for the first time from brain tissue of depressed patients. Glutamate release was unaltered from the control value. Aspartate values showed unexplained variability but it's release and that of gamma-aminobutyrate were elevated in some depressed subjects. These results do not support the hypothesis of reduced amino acid function in depressive illness.

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