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Drug News Perspect. 2006 Apr;19(3):145-50.

NAAG peptidase as a therapeutic target: Potential for regulating the link between glucose metabolism and cognition.

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Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Center for Neurochemistry, Orangeburg, New York 10962, USA.


There is a new class of CNS drugs, N-acetylaspartylglutamate (NAAG) peptidase inhibitors, that can affect a two-step, neuron-astrocyte/astrocyte-vascular endothelium, signaling mechanism. Using this homeostatic mechanism, activated neurons continuously interact with the vascular system to indicate ongoing requirements for supplies of glucose (Glc) and oxygen needed to maintain cognitive functions. These new drugs impact the first step by inhibiting NAAG peptidase, located on the astrocyte surface, that cleaves glutamate (Glu) from the neuropeptide NAAG after it has docked with the astrocyte surface metabotropic Glu receptor 3 (mGluR3). As a result, this interferes with initiation of the second step, the astrocyte-vascular endothelium signal, activation of which results in a rapid hyperemic response that increases focal availability of energy supplies. Since NAAG is liberated upon each neuron depolarization, its release is linked to the level of neuronal spiking. This insures that its mGluR3 signal function reflects current levels of neuronal stimulation, so that Glc and oxygen can be supplied in a timely manner for metabolic replacement of ATP stocks depleted during the repolarization process. The metabolism of NAAG is very complex, being a component of the only metabolic sequence in the brain requiring three major brain cell types--neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes--for its successful completion. In this review, we describe the unique NAAG tricellular metabolic cycle and survey some reported actions of these new and novel drugs. We also consider their probable site and mode of action and speculate upon their therapeutic potential.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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