In mammalian brains, D-amino-acid oxidase activity is absent or scarce in the forebrain, is confined to the brain stem and cerebellum, and its localization is extended to the spinal cord. The oxidase-containing cells are astrocytes including Bergmann glial cells. Neither neurons, endothelial cells, oligodendrocytes nor ependymal cells show the oxidase activity. Free D-serine, a potent activator of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, is in high levels in the forebrain (ca. 0.4μmol/g wet weight), and in low levels in the hindbrain. Thus, the localization of the oxidase activity is inversely correlated with the distribution of D-serine in mammalian brains. This inverse correlation is generally found in vertebrate brains. These results indicate that D-amino-acid oxidase decomposes D-amino acids including D-serine in vertebrate brains, and that the magnitude of its activity is important in determining the regional concentrations of D-amino acids in the steady states. Copyright © 2001 Elsevier Science B.V.
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