It is well known that abnormally elevated glutamate levels in the brain are associated with secondary brain injury following acute and chronic brain insults. As such, a tight regulation of brain glutamate concentrations is of utmost importance in preventing the neurodegenerative effects of excess glutamate. There has been much effort in recent years to better understand the mechanisms by which glutamate is reduced in the brain to non-toxic concentrations, and in how to safely accelerate these mechanisms. Blood glutamate scavengers such as oxaloacetate, pyruvate, glutamate–oxaloacetate transaminase, and glutamatepyruvate transaminase have been shown to reduce blood glutamate concentrations, thereby increasing the driving force of the brain to blood glutamate efflux and subsequently reducing brain glutamate levels. In the past decade, blood glutamate scavengers have gained increasing international interest, and its uses have been applied to a wide range of experimental contexts in animal models of traumatic brain injury, ischemic stroke, subarachnoid hemorrhage, epilepsy, migraine, and malignant gliomas. Although glutamate scavengers have not yet been used in humans, there is increasing evidence that their use may provide effective and exciting new therapeutic modalities. Here, we review the laboratory evidence for the use of blood glutamate scavengers. Other experimental neuroprotective treatments thought to scavenge blood glutamate, including estrogen and progesterone, beta-adrenergic activation, hypothermia, insulin and glucagon, and hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis are also discussed. The evidence reviewed here will hopefully pave the way for future clinical trials.
- Blood glutamate scavenging