Abstract

D-Aspartate (D-Asp) is an endogenous amino acid in the central nervous and reproductive systems of vertebrates and invertebrates. High concentrations of D-Asp are found in distinct anatomical locations, suggesting that it has specific physiological roles in animals. Many of the characteristics of D-Asp have been documented, including its tissue and cellular distribution, formation and degradation, as well as the responses elicited by D-Asp application. D-Asp performs important roles related to nervous system development and hormone regulation; in addition, it appears to act as a cell-to-cell signaling molecule. Recent studies have shown that D-Asp fulfills many, if not all, of the definitions of a classical neurotransmitter-that the molecule's biosynthesis, degradation, uptake, and release take place within the presynaptic neuron, and that it triggers a response in the postsynaptic neuron after its release. Accumulating evidence suggests that these criteria are met by a heterogeneous distribution of enzymes for D-Asp's biosynthesis and degradation, an appropriate uptake mechanism, localization within synaptic vesicles, and a postsynaptic response via an ionotropic receptor. Although D-Asp receptors remain to be characterized, the postsynaptic response of D-Asp has been studied and several L-glutamate receptors are known to respond to D-Asp. In this review, we discuss the current status of research on D-Asp in neuronal and neuroendocrine systems, and highlight results that support D-Asp's role as a signaling molecule.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1873-1886
Number of pages14
JournalAmino Acids
Volume43
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012

Keywords

  • D-Amino acids
  • D-Aspartate
  • Endocrine gland
  • Nervous system
  • Neurotransmitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry

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