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J Neurochem. 1993 Jul;61(1):348-51.

Embryonic development and postnatal changes in free D-aspartate and D-serine in the human prefrontal cortex.

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Group of Cell and Information, Research Development Corporation of Japan, Tokyo.


We have analyzed free chiral amino acids (aspartate and serine) in the human frontal cortex at different ontogenic stages (from 14 weeks of gestation to 101 years of age) by HPLC with fluorometric detection after derivatization with N-tert-butyl-oxycarbonyl-L-cysteine and o-phthaldialdehyde. Exceptionally high levels of free D-aspartate and D-serine were demonstrated in the fetal cortex at gestational week 14. The ratios of D-aspartate and of D-serine to the total corresponding amino acids were also high, at 0.63 and 0.27, respectively. The concentration of D-aspartate dramatically decreased to a trace level by gestational week 41 and then remained very low during all postnatal stages. In contrast, the frontal tip contained persistently high levels of D-serine throughout embryonic and postnatal life, whereas the D-amino acid content in adolescents and aged individuals was about half of that in the fetuses. Because D-aspartate and D-serine are known to have selective actions at the NMDA-type excitatory amino acid receptor, the present data suggest that these D-amino acids might play a pivotal role in cerebral development and functions that are related to the NMDA receptor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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