Culture models for the study of amino acid transport and metabolism

Marta Sidoryk-Wȩgrzynowicz, Michael Aschner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Glutamine (Gln) plays an important role in satisfying brain metabolic demands and as a precursor for the synthesis of glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). In vitro cultured cell studies have shown that carrier-mediated Gln transport between astrocytes and neurons represents a key factor in the glutamate-GABA-glutamine cycle. Gln transport in astrocytes involves the following systems: sodium-dependent: system N; system ASC; system A and sodium-independent: system L, whereas in neurons only systems A and L are active. Gln-specific carriers primarily mediate not only inward transport, but can also largely contribute to outwardly transport. Therefore, both uptake and release studies are important for the investigation of Gln transport and metabolism. In this unit, methods are presented for radiolabel Gln uptake and efflux experiments in primary astrocyte cultures. These methods can be useful for the investigation of Gln transport by different systems in any tested conditions. We also review here the basic properties of the glutamate-GABA- glutamine cycle, including aspects of transport and metabolism. Furthermore, a section is devoted to the characteristics of the transport systems N, ASC, A and L and to the functional and molecular identifications of the Gln-specific carriers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCell Culture Techniques
EditorsMichael Aschner, Cristina Sunol, Anna Bal-Price
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

ISSN (Print)0893-2336
ISSN (Electronic)1940-6045


  • Efflux assay
  • Glutamine
  • Transport system
  • Uptake assay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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