Selected publications

Exchange-mode glutamine transport across CNS cell membranes


Available online 8 March 2019

Invited review

Exchange-mode glutamine transport across CNS cell membranes

Jan Albrecht, Magdalena Zielińska rights and content


CNS cell membranes possess four transporters capable of exchanging Lglutamine (Gln) for other amino acids: the large neutral amino acid (LNAA) transporters LAT1 and LAT2, the hybrid basic amino acid (L-arginine (Arg), L-leucine (Leu)/LNAA transporter y+LAT2, and the L-alanine/L-serine/L-cysteine transporter 2 (ASCT2). LAT1/LAT2 and y+LAT2 are present in astrocytes, neurons and the blood brain barrier (BBB) - forming cerebral vascular endothelial cells (CVEC), while the location of ASCT2 in the individual cell types is a matter of debate. In the healthy brain, contribution of the exchangers to Gln shuttling from astrocytes to neurons and thus their role in controlling the conversion of Gln to the amino acid neurotransmitters l-glutamate (Glu) and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and Gln flux across the BBB appears negligible as compared to the system A and system N uniporters. Insofar, except for the contribution of LAT1 to the maintenance of Gln homeostasis in the interstitial fluid (ISF), no well-defined CNS-specific function has been established for either of the three transporters in the healthy brain. The Gln-accepting amino acid exchangers appear to gain significance under conditions of excessive brain Gln load (glutaminosis). Excess Gln efflux across the BBB enhances influx into the brain of L-tryptophan (Trp). Excess of Trp is responsible for overloading the brain with neuroactive compounds: serotonin, kynurenic acid, quinolinic acid and/or oxindole, which contribute to neurotransmission imbalance accompanying hyperammonemia. In turn, alterations of y+LAT2-mediated Gln/Arg exchange and Arg uptake in astrocyte, modulate astrocytic nitric oxide synthesis and oxidative/nitrosative stress in ammonia-overexposed brain.


Glutamine, Transport, Amino acid exchanger, Astrocyte, Blood-brain barier, Ammonia