Glutamate carboxypeptidase II (NAALADase) inhibition as a novel therapeutic strategy.

Ajit G. Thomas, Krystyna M. Wozniak, Takashi Tsukamoto, David Calvin, Ying Wu, Camilo Rojas, James Vornov, Barbara S. Slusher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


GCP II inhibition decreases extracellular excitotoxic glutamate and increases extracellular NAAG, both of which provide neuroprotection. We have demonstrated with our potent and selective GCP II inhibitors efficacy in models of stroke, ALS and neuropathic pain. GCP II inhibition may have significant potential benefits over existing glutamate-based neuroprotection strategies. The upstream mechanism seems selective for excitotoxic induced glutamate release, as GCP II inhibitors in normal animals induced no change in basal glutamate. This suggestion has recently been corroborated by Lieberman and coworkers24 who found that both NAAG release and increase in GCP II activity appear to be induced by electrical stimulation in crayfish nerve fibers and that subsequent NAAG hydrolysis to glutamate contributes, at least in part, to subsequent NMDA receptor activation. Interestingly, even at relatively high doses of compounds, GCP II inhibition did not appear to be associated with learning/memory deficits in animals. Additionally, quantitative neurophysiological testing data and visual analog scales for 'psychedelic effects' in Phase I single dose and repeat dose studies showed GCP II inhibition to be safe and well tolerated by both healthy volunteers and diabetic patients. GCP II inhibition may represent a novel glutamate regulating strategy devoid of the side effects that have hampered the development of postsynaptic glutamate receptor antagonists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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