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Glutamate and Depression

Glutamate and Depression


A collective of evidences and researches have supported the important role of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter, in depression bipolar disorders. It has been shown that patient with such medical conditions have an elevated concentration of glutamate in the frontal cortex as compared with healthy individuals.


Glutamate is a known major excitatory neurotransmitter present in the cerebral cortex. According to Kenji Hajimoto of Chiba University Center for Forensic Health in Japan, glutamate is thought to play a major part in major mental disorders.  

This neurotransmitter is related to Balance D, Daxitrol, Kavinace, and TravaCor.


Glutamate antagonists like ketamine and phencyclidine (PCP) produces a psychotic state that imitates schizophrenia. This observation has lead to the suggestion that glutamate plays a major role in the disease. On the other hand, the role of glutamatergic neurotransmissions in mood disorders like major depressive disorders and bipolar disorders are still unclear.


Post mortem studies is quite critical to assess and examine the changes in the molecular level associated with the pathophysiology of mental diseases but unfortunately, the results obtained have shown conflicting results. According to Hajimoto and his colleagues, this may be attributed to the wide time variations between the extraction of tissues and the time of death. This factor is known as PMI or post mortem interval which has a great effect on glutamate levels. And because such variations are unavoidable, eliminating the problem is not possible.


To model the variation, Hajimoto and his colleagues used the mouse data to adjust PMI before analyzing the levels of glutamate in frontal cortex of human post mortem samples. Tissues were taken from 15 patients with bipolar disorders, 15 with schizophrenia, 15 patients with major depressive disorders against 15 controls (mentally healthy).


Results showed that bipolar patients have an average of 15.33nmol of glutamate per mg of brain tissue. This value is significantly higher than the controls, having a concentration of 10.66nmol of glutamate per mg of brain tissue.


The observation is quite similar with the results obtained in mood-stabilizing drugs which are used to treat bipolar disorders. These drugs exert neuroprotective effects against toxicity induced by glutamate in neuron cultures.


Other results showed increased glutamate levels (14.09 nmol/mg) in patients with major depression and normal concentrations in patients with schizophrenia. The team then concluded that high levels of glutamate may increase neuronal cell death that contributes greatly to the pathophysiology of mood disorders.

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