The role of glutamate transporters in the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders


Altered glutamate transporter expression is a common feature of many neuropsychiatric conditions, including schizophrenia. Excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs) are responsible for the reuptake of glutamate, preventing non-physiological spillover from the synapse. Postmortem studies have revealed significant dysregulation of EAAT expression in various brain regions at the cellular and subcellular level. Recent animal studies have also demonstrated a role for glutamate spillover as a mechanism of disease. In this review, we describe current evidence for the role of glutamate transporters in regulating synaptic plasticity and transmission. In neuropsychiatric conditions, EAAT splice variant expression is altered. There are changes in the localization of the transporters and disruption of the metabolic and structural protein network that supports EAAT activity. This results in aberrant neuroplasticity and excitatory signaling, contributing to the symptoms associated with neuropsychiatric disease. Understanding the complex functions of glutamate transporters will clarify the relevance of their role in the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders.