Bruce Lyeth, PhD
Department of Neurological Surgery
University of California, Davis
Excitotoxicity: Historical Perspective and Novel Treatments for TBI
Glutamate is the principal excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system and is essential for normal brain function. Paradoxically, excessive release of glutamate into the extracellular space of the brain plays an important role in the development of secondary brain injury following cerebral ischemia and traumatic brain injury (TBI). I will present a brief historical overview of glutamate excitotoxicity, a condition in which unusually high levels of extracellular glutamate damages and kills neurons. I will describe two novel strategies developed in my lab to treat excitotoxicity associated with TBI: 1) application of NAAG peptidase inhibitors to reduce glutamate release after TBI and 2) supplementing a natural blood enzyme, GOT-1, to scavenge excess glutamate from the interstitial space of the brain. Both strategies have potential to be developed into therapeutics for TBI.