Atypical neural messengers

David E. Barañano, Christopher D. Ferris, Solomon H. Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

249 Scopus citations


Notions of what constitutes a neurotransmitter have changed markedly with the advent in the past decade of synaptic molecules, which satisfy key neurotransmitter criteria but differ radically from classical transmitters. Thus, NO and carbon monoxide are neither stored in synaptic vesicles nor released by exocytosis. These gases do not act via traditional receptors on postsynaptic membranes. In addition, zinc, stored together with glutamate in synaptic vesicles, appears to act as an 'antagonist' co-transmitter at the NMDA receptor, and although localized exclusively to glia, D-serine fulfills most neurotransmitter criteria as an endogenous ligand for the 'glycine' site of NMDA receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-106
Number of pages8
JournalTrends in neurosciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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