Mathematical Modelling of Natural Phenomena
Excitatory Amino Acid Transporters (EAATs) operate over wide time scales in the brain. They maintain low ambient concentrations of the primary excitatory amino acid neurotransmitter glu- tamate, but they also seem to play a significant role in clearing glutamate from the synaptic cleft in the millisecond time-scale process of chemical communication that occurs between neurons. The detailed kinetic mechanisms underlying glutamate uptake and clearance remain incompletely understood. In this work we used a combination of methods to model EAAT kinetics and gain insight into the impact of transport on glutamate dynamics in a general sense. We derive reliable estimates of the turnover rates of the three major EAAT subtypes expressed in the mammalian cerebral cortex. Previous studies have provided transporter kinetic estimates that vary over an order of magnitude. The values obtained in this study are consistent with estimates that suggest the unitary transporter rates are approximately 20-fold slower than the time course of glutamate in the synapse. A combined diusion/transport model provides a possible mechanism for the apparent discrepancy.
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