Glutamate and GABA signalling components in the human brain and in immune cells
Abstract: Glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are the principal excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the central nervous system (CNS). They both can activate their ionotropic and metabotropic receptors. Glutamate activates ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGlu - AMPA, kainate and NMDA receptors) and GABA activates GABA-A receptors which are modulated by many types of drugs and substances including alcohol. Using real time quantitative polymerase chain reaction, I have shown that iGlu and/or GABA-A receptor subunits were expressed in the hippocampus dentate gyrus (HDG), orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DL-PFC), central amygdala (CeA), caudate and putamen of the human brain and their expression was altered by chronic excessive alcohol consumption. It indicates that excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission may have been altered in the brain of human alcoholics. It is possible that changes in one type of neurotransmitter system may drive changes in another. These brain regions also play a role in brain reward system. Any changes in them may lead to changes in the normal brain functions.Apart from the CNS, glutamate and GABA are also present in the blood and can be synthesised by pancreatic islet cells and immune cells. They may act as immunomodulators of circulating immune cells and can affect immune function through glutamate and GABA receptors. I found that T cells from human, rat and mouse lymph nodes expressed the mRNAs and proteins for specific GABA-A receptor subunits. GABA-evoked transient and tonic currents recorded using the patch clamp technique demonstrate the functional GABA-A channel in T cells. Furthermore, the mRNAs for specific iGlu, GABA-A and GABA-B receptor subunits and chloride cotransporters were detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from men, non-pregnant women, healthy and depressed pregnant women. The results indicate that the expression of iGlu, GABA-A and GABA-B receptors is related to gender, pregnancy and mental health and support the notion that glutamate and GABA receptors may modulate immune function. Intra- and interspecies variability exists in the expression and it is further influenced by physiological conditions.
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