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Am J Physiol. 1998 Apr;274(4):C1101-7. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.1998.274.4.C1101.

Glutamine transport by the blood-brain barrier: a possible mechanism for nitrogen removal.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Finch University of Health Science, Chicago Medical School, Illinois 60064-3095, USA.


Glutamine and glutamate transport activities were measured in isolated luminal and abluminal plasma membrane vesicles derived from bovine brain endothelial cells. Facilitative systems for glutamine and glutamate were almost exclusively located in luminal-enriched membranes. The facilitative glutamine carrier was neither sensitive to 2-aminobicyclo(2,2,1)heptane-2-carboxylic acid inhibition nor did it participate in accelerated amino acid exchange; it therefore appeared to be distinct from the neutral amino acid transport system L1. Two Na-dependent glutamine transporters were found in abluminal-enriched membranes: systems A and N. System N accounted for approximately 80% of Na-dependent glutamine transport at 100 microM. Abluminal-enriched membranes showed Na-dependent glutamate transport activity. The presence of 1) Na-dependent carriers capable of pumping glutamine and glutamate from brain into endothelial cells, 2) glutaminase within endothelial cells to hydrolyze glutamine to glutamate and ammonia, and 3) facilitative carriers for glutamine and glutamate at the luminal membrane may provide a mechanism for removing nitrogen and nitrogen-rich amino acids from brain.

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