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J Neurochem. 2004 Aug;90(4):776-83.

N-acetylaspartate: a literature review of animal research on brain ischaemia.

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Laboratoire de Pharmacodynamie et Physiologie Pharmaceutique, Faculté de Pharmacie, Dijon, France.


The present review examines and discusses the changes in N-acetylaspartate (NAA) concentration in the ischaemic brain from the existing literature of animal research. By summarizing the current knowledge on NAA metabolic pathways and reviewing the data obtained in animal models of global and focal ischaemia, the following conclusions emerge from this compilation: (i) both magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and the absolute HPLC method of NAA quantification give converging information; (ii) decreases in brain NAA concentration in acute stroke can be considered as an index of neuronal loss or dysfunction, although NAA redistribution by glial cells and NAA trapping in cell debris restrict its use as a quantitative neuronal marker; (iii) further studies on NAA metabolism in pathologic brain are required before using NAA measurement in the chronic stage of ischaemia for evaluating neuroprotective strategies.

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