Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Brain Damage in Infant Mice following Oral Intake of Glutamate, Aspartate or Cysteine


STRIKING degenerative changes in the infant mouse retina after subcutaneous treatment with monosodium glutamate (MSG) were reported by Lucas and Newhouse in 19571. Other studies2–6 established that the process of retinal degeneration induced by MSG treatment is a remarkably acute and irreversible form of neuronal pathology. Recently it was found that a similar process of acute neuronal necrosis occurs in several regions of the infant mouse brain after subcutaneous treatment with MSG, and that animals treated with high doses in infancy tend to manifest obesity and neuroendocrine disturbances as adults7,8. The arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus is an area particularly vulnerable to glutamate induced damage in infant animals of several species (mice and rats7, rabbits and chicks and the rhesus monkey9). In mice, which have been studied more extensively for MSG induced disturbances than other species, the infant animal suffered hypothalamic damage from a relatively low subcutaneous dose (0.5 g/kg of body weight)7.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Lucas, D. R., and Newhouse, J. P., Amer. Med. Assoc. Arch. Ophthal., 58, 193 (1957).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Potts, A. M., Modrell, K. W., and Kingsbury, C., Amer. J. Ophthal., 50, 900 (1960).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Freedman, J. K., and Potts, A. M., Invest. Ophthal., 1, 118 (1962).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Freedman, J. K., and Potts, A. M., Invest. Ophthal., 2, 252 (1963).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Cohen, A. I., Amer. J. Anat., 120, 319 (1967).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Olney, J. W., J. Neuropath. Exp. Neurol., 28, 455 (1969).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Olney, J. W., Science, 164, 719 (1969).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Redding, T. W., and Schally, A. V., Fed. Proc., 29, 755 (1970).

    Google Scholar 

  9. Olney, J. W., and Sharpe, L. G., Science, 166, 386 (1969).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Gerber Products, Inc., Hearings before the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs of the US Senate, 13A, 4170 (July 1969).

  11. Lowe, C. U., Science, 167, 1016 (1970).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Blood, F. R., Oser, B. L., and White, P. L., Science, 165, 1028 (1969).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Curtis, D. R., and Crawford, J. M., Ann. Rev. Pharm., 9, 209 (1969).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

OLNEY, J., HO, OL. Brain Damage in Infant Mice following Oral Intake of Glutamate, Aspartate or Cysteine. Nature 227, 609–611 (1970).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing