Glutamate is a neurotransmitter. It has inhibitory functions on the nervous system. You want to know more? Keep reading!
Glutamate is the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, released by both neurons and glial cells. Glutamatergic pathways are involved in neuronal plasticity, memory and learning, as well as other complex functions.
Its receptor system is very complex, as there are two different types that differ in their mechanism of action. On the one hand, the fast receptors, called ionotropic, whose mechanism is based on ion channels. On the other hand, metabotropic receptors, whose mechanism uses G proteins.
Alterations in this system are suspected to be responsible for some neurodegenerative and neurotoxic disorders. In addition to being the main neurotransmitter in the brain, glutamate is also involved in the sense of taste, in the maintenance of intestinal cells, and in the metabolism of liver cells.
The umami flavor
The receptors for the different flavors reside in the taste buds of the tongue. Until relatively recently, the basic flavors were sweet, salty, bitter, and sour.
However, a fifth flavor associated with glutamate has recently been described: the umami flavor. This name was given to the characteristic flavor of the broth, which could not be associated with any of the others.
Monosodium glutamate is a salt derived from glutamate. This is used as an additive in many foods, in order to give them a tastier and more pleasant flavor.
It is a substance surrounded by controversy and subject to constant evaluation. This is due to its addictive nature, which is why its use in food is limited.
Glutamate as a neurotransmitter
Next, we will see more about glutamate as a neurotransmitter, step by step.