Excitotoxic neuronal damage and neuropsychiatric disorders

Charles F. Zorumski, John W. Olney

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Excitatory amino acids (EAA) serve important physiological functions in the vertebrate CNS, including participation in fast excitatory synaptic transmission, modulation of synaptic plasticity and regulation of neuronal morphology during development. However, paradoxically they also harbor neurotoxic (excitotoxic) potential, which, if unleashed, can cause widespread degeneration of CNS neurons. Accumulating evidence suggests a role for excitotoxins in a variety of human neuropsychiatric disorders. This paper reviews the classes of EAA receptors in the CNS, the mechanisms underlying EAA-mediated neuronal damage and the role of EAA in specific human disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-162
Number of pages18
JournalPharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993


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