Glutamate is one of two primary excitatory neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. It is also one of the most prominent neurotransmitters, with an estimate of more than 50% of synapses in the human brain releasing this neurotransmitter. Glutamate does not cross the blood-brain barrier and, accordingly, must be produced by neurons within the cortex. The characteristics of a neurotransmitter include the following: the substance must be included in the presynaptic neuron; the substance must be released following presynaptic depolarization, which must be Ca1+ dependent; and the postsynaptic cell must contain specific receptors for the released substance.

The precursor of glutamate is glutamine, which is released by glial cells. When glutamine is taken up in the presynaptic terminal, it is metabolized into glutamate by the ...

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