D -Amino Acid Levels in Perfused Mouse Brain Tissue and Blood: A Comparative Study

Choyce A. Weatherly, Siqi Du, Curran Parpia, Polan T. Santos, Adam L. Hartman, Daniel W. Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The l-enantiomer is the predominant type of amino acid in all living systems. However, d-amino acids, once thought to be "unnatural", have been found to be indigenous even in mammalian systems and increasingly appear to be functioning in essential biological and neurological roles. Both d- and l-amino acid levels in the hippocampus, cortex, and blood samples from NIH Swiss mice are reported. Perfused brain tissues were analyzed for the first time, thereby eliminating artifacts due to endogenous blood, and decreased the mouse-to-mouse variability in amino acid levels. Total amino acid levels (l- plus d-enantiomers) in brain tissue are up to 10 times higher than in blood. However, all measured d-amino acid levels in brain tissue are typically ∼10 to 2000 times higher than blood levels. There was a 13% reduction in almost all measured d-amino acid levels in the cortex compared to those in the hippocampus. There is an approximate inverse relationship between the prevalence of an amino acid and the percentage of its d-enantiomeric form. Interestingly, glutamic acid, unlike all other amino acids, had no quantifiable level of its d-antipode. The bioneurological reason for the unique and conspicuous absence/removal of this d-amino acid is yet unknown. However, results suggest that d-glutamate metabolism is likely a unidirectional process and not a cycle, as per the l-glutamate/glutamine cycle. The results suggest that there might be unreported d-amino acid racemases in mammalian brains. The regulation and function of specific other d-amino acids are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1251-1261
Number of pages11
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 21 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • blood
  • cortex
  • d -Amino acid levels
  • d -amino acid regulation
  • hippocampus
  • perfused brain tissue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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