NUMEROUS investigations have shown that certain amino-acids, including several which are present in the mammalian central nervous system, strongly influence the behaviour of neurones when applied extracellularly1–4. These amino-acids fall into two groups; neutral amino-acids related to γ-amino-n-butyric acid (GABA), which depress the activity of neurones, and acidic amino-acids related to glutamic acid, which excite neurones3. An analysis of the effects of these substances on mammalian spinal neurones indicates that whereas the mechanism of action of GABA differs from that of mammalian inhibitory transmitters5, the action of L-glutamie acid has certain features in common with that of excitatory transmitter substances3,6. Recently, several substances were found to have a much greater potency than GABA and glutamic acid as depressants and excitants respectively of neurones within the isolated and sagitally hemisected spinal cord of the toad7. In particular, N-methylaspartic acid and homocysteic acid were found to be potent excitants, and 3-amino-1-propanesulphonic acid was a powerful depressant. The potencies of these and related amino-acids on mammalian spinal and cortical neurones have now been determined.
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CURTIS, D., WATKINS, J. Analogues of Glutamic and γ-Amino-n-butyric acids having Potent Actions on Mammalian Neurones. Nature 191, 1010–1011 (1961) doi:10.1038/1911010a0
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