MadSci Network: Neuroscience

Re: What are the adverse effects of Monosodium Glutamate on brain cells?

Date: Thu Dec 14 14:22:47 2000
Posted By: Noah Raizman, Faculty, Math, Science, and Technology, Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School
Area of science: Neuroscience
ID: 975289775.Ns

Well, it depends on how it's administered. MSG obviously has two 
components - sodium and glutamate. The balance of sodium inside and 
outside neurons is necessary for the generation of action potentials, and 
so direct application of MSG could disturb that.
     In addition, glutamate functions as an excitatory neurotransmitter, 
the most common in the brain. There are many different kinds of glutamate 
receptors, and they have been the focus of an incredible amount of 
research. You might look up "NMDA receptors" "AMPA receptors" and "Kainate 
receptors." Those are the major subclasses. 
     In response to your question, though, too much glutamatergic activity 
at the synapse often leads to the death of the postsynaptic neuron. This 
phenomenon is known as "excitotoxicity" and is thought by many to be 
implicated in various types of brain damage, including stroke and shock. 
Good luck in your research. Please email me at if you 
have more questions or need recommendations for informational resources.
Noah Raizman
Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School
Devens, MA

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