What is the neurotransmitter glycine?

Glycine, likeadenosine triphosphate (ATP), is amolecule with dual function, that of a non-essentialamino acid involved in protein synthesis andacting as a neurotransmitter, to favor in the first instance the communication between each neuron and alsoparticipate in some biological processes inhumans. (1)

From its neurotransmitter function, it can act as an exciter of neuronal activity and as an inhibitorof the excitatory function of other neurotransmitters.

Similarly, glycine through certain physiological processes is released into the bloodstreamuntil it manages to cross the blood-brain barrierand enters the interior of theCentral Nervous System (CNS), performing its neurotransmitter function there.

Note: Glycineworks in conjunction with the neurotransmitter glutamate at the NMDA-type ionotropic receptor of glutamate.

What is the function of the neurotransmitter glycine?

Due to its propertiesto act as an amino acidand when it crosses the blood-brain barrier as a neurotransmitter, glycine has the following functions:

1. Involved in cell division and tissue regeneration

As an amino acid, glycine is involved in the synthesis of some chemical compounds required by the body to promote cell division, as well as in the repair and creation of different types of tissues for organs and muscles.

To highlight: In addition, glycine intervenes in in favor of the recovery of many pathologies in humans. (two)

2. Reduces the activity of other neurotransmitters

3. Contributes to the formation of proteins

Proteins that are synthesized by the body are made up of a variety of amino acid chainstag. Among these amino acids is glycine.

In this sense, glycine is part of a very important protein for the organism such as collagen , which is part of the tissues, bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments that make up the structure of the organism.

Note: Both in the synthesis of glycine, and during the process of its release and reuptake , adenosine triphosphate intervenes as an energy source for these metabolic processes.

4. Control muscle movements

Body movements are executed thanks to the excitability caused by some neurotransmitters that stimulate muscle contraction.

Therefore, if a neurotransmitter like glycine did not exist, these neurotransmitters would be constantly sending signals, making the muscles keep in constant movement. This is how glycine helpsmaintain muscle tone and that muscles can work in a coordinated way.

To highlight: Glycine, like other inhibitory neurotransmitters, regulates the excitatory function of other neurotransmitters such as glutamate and acetylcholine .

5. Relaxes neurons and contributes to a state of calm

The inhibitory function of glycine as a neurotransmitter regulates the excitatory action of other neurotransmitters in the transmission of impulses due to the influence that our emotions have on brain activity.

This action allows glycine to relax the hyperactivity of neurons , keeping brain activity calm.

You should know: In sleep, glycine has been linked to muscle atony that occurs in REM sleep. (4)

6. Promotes the development of cognitive functions

Glycine, in its function as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, favors a better neuronal interconnection in the brain , preventing the overexcitation caused by other neurotransmitters from causing an overload of electrical impulses and thus maintaining a healthy Central Nervous System.

In this sense, the function of glycine as a neurotransmitter allows a better performance of cognitive functions such as memory, learning , concentration, attention and especially in decision-making processes. 

Note: When glycine levels are very high in the brain, it leads to a disease called encephalopathy (5) , which causes problems with cognitive functions.

7. It is involved in the processing of visual and auditory stimuli

This important neurotransmitter helps to transmit and process in an orderly manner all those nerve impulses related to visual and auditory activities, from the corresponding sensory organs to the brain.

Important: Some scientific studies describe that imbalances in neurotransmitters in the brain can cause some types of hallucinations such as auditory and hallucinations in patients suffering from some mental disorders. (6)

Key Findings

  • Glycine is a non-essential amino acid with neurotransmitter functions.
  • In its role as a neurotransmitter, it acts as an exciter of of neuronal activity and an inhibitor of other neurotransmitters.
  • Glycine is involved in the formation of important proteinsfor the body.
  • Glycine relaxes brain functions in the perception of alert situations.

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