Blockade of NAALADase: A novel neuroprotective strategy based on limiting glutamate and elevating NAAG

James J. Vornov, Krystyna Wozniak, May Lu, Paul Jackson, Takashi Tsukamoto, Eric Wang, Barbara Slusher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Excessive glutamate receptor activation is thought to be involved in the neuronal injury caused by stroke. Based on the hypothesis that N-acetylaspartyl-glutamate (NAAG) is a modulatory neurotransmitter or storage form of glutamate, we have pursued a novel strategy of therapeutic intervention, blockade of N-acetylated alpha-linked acidic dipeptidase (NAALADase), the enzyme that hydrolyzes NAAG to liberate glutamate. Using the suture model of transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) in rats, the prototype NAALADase inhibitor 2-(phosphonomethyl)pentanedioic acid (2-PMPA) dramatically reduced extracellular glutamate accumulation measured by microdialysis both during a 2-hour occlusion and during reperfusion, consistent with an effect on glutamate supply. During reperfusion, the decrease in glutamate was accompanied by an equimolar, reciprocal rise in extracellular NAAG. NAALADase inhibition may prove to be a well tolerated therapy for cerebral ischemia. In addition, NAALADase inhibitors should prove to be important tools in understanding the physiological role of NAAG in the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-405
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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