Plant‐Derived Neurotoxic Amino Acids (β‐N‐Oxalylamino‐l‐Alanine and β‐N‐Methylamino‐l‐Alanine): Effects on Central Monoamine Neurons

Helena Lindström, Johan Luthman, Peter Mouton, Peter Spencer, Lars Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Abstract: In the present study the subacute effects of β‐N‐oxalylamino‐l‐alanine (BOAA) and β‐N‐methyIamino‐l‐alanine (BMAA) on CNS monoamine neurons in rats were investigated following intracisternal injections or local intracerebral administration into substantia nigra. In vitro effects of BOAA and BMAA on high‐affinity synaptosomal uptake of dopamine (DA), noradrenaline (NA), and serotonin (5‐HT) were also examined. Intracisternal administration of BMAA decreased NA levels in hypothalamus, whereas no effects were seen on DA or 5‐HT levels. Following intranigral injections of BOAA, NA levels tended to decrease in several regions, whereas the DA levels and the levels of DA metabolites were unaffected in all regions analyzed. Loss of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunoreactivity in the intranigral injection sites and the presence of TH‐immunoreactive pyknotic neurons near the borders of the injection sites were observed following both BOAA and BMAA treatments. Furthermore, substance P‐immunoreactive terminals in substantia nigra pars reticulata were also found to have disappeared within the lesioned area following either BOAA or BMAA injections. Incubations with both BOAA and BMAA (105M) reduced high‐affinity [3H]NA uptake in cortical synaptosomes to 69% and 41% of controls, respectively, whereas the striatal high‐affinity [3H]DA uptake and the cortical high‐affinity [3H]5‐HT uptake were unaffected by BOAA or BMAA. The results demonstrate that both BOAA and BMAA can affect central monoamine neurons, although the potency and specificity of these substances on monoamine neurons when administered acutely into cerebral tissue or liquor cerebri seem to be low. However, the in vitro studies indicate selective effects of both compounds on NA neurons in synaptosomal preparations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)941-949
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1990


  • CNS
  • Dopamine
  • Noradrenaline
  • Serotonin
  • β‐N‐Methylamino‐l‐alanine
  • β‐N‐Oxalylamino‐l‐alanine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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