Excitatory amino acid transporters in physiology and disorders of the central nervous system


  • A.R. Malik
  • T.E. Willnow


  • International Journal of Molecular Sciences


  • Int J Mol Sci 20 (22): 5671


  • Excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs) encompass a class of five transporters with distinct expression in neurons and glia of the central nervous system (CNS). EAATs are mainly recognized for their role in uptake of the amino acid glutamate, the major excitatory neurotransmitter. EAATs-mediated clearance of glutamate released by neurons is vital to maintain proper glutamatergic signalling and to prevent toxic accumulation of this amino acid in the extracellular space. In addition, some EAATs also act as chloride channels or mediate the uptake of cysteine, required to produce the reactive oxygen speciesscavenger glutathione. Given their central role in glutamate homeostasis in the brain, as well as their additional activities, it comes as no surprise that EAAT dysfunctions have been implicated in numerous acute or chronic diseases of the CNS, including ischemic stroke and epilepsy, cerebellar ataxias, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer´s disease and Huntington´s disease. Here we review the studies in cellular and animal models, as well as in humans that highlight the roles of EAATs in the pathogenesis of these devastating disorders. We also discuss the mechanisms regulating EAATs expression and intracellular trafficking and new exciting possibilities to modulate EAATs and to provide neuroprotection in course of pathologies affecting the CNS.