Author(s): Bonfanti L, Peretto P, De Marchis S, Fasolo A
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Abstract Carnosine and structurally related dipeptides are a group of histidine-containing molecules widely distributed in vertebrate organisms and particularly abundant in muscle and nervous tissue. Although many theories have been proposed, the biological function(s) of these compounds in the nervous system remains enigmatic. The purpose of this article is to review the distribution of carnosine-related dipeptides in the mammalian brain, with particular reference to some cell populations wherein these molecules have been demonstrated to occur very recently. The high expression of carnosine in the mammalian olfactory receptor neurons led to infer that this dipeptide could play a role as a neurotransmitter/modulator in olfaction. This prediction, which has not yet been fully demonstrated, does not explain the localization of carnosine-related dipeptides in other cell types, such as glial and ependymal cells. A recent demonstration of high carnosine-like immunoreactivity in the subependymal layer of rodents, an area of the forebrain which shares with the olfactory neuroepithelium the occurrence of continuous neurogenesis during adulthood, supports the hypothesis that carnosine-related dipeptides could be implicated in some forms of structural plasticity. However, the particular distribution of these molecules in the subependymal layer, along with their expression in glial/ependymal cell populations, suggests that they are not directly linked to cell migration or cell renewal. In the absence of a unified theory about the role of carnosine-related dipeptides in the nervous system, some common features shared by different cell populations of the mammalian brain which contain these molecules are discussed.
This article was published in Prog Neurobiol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Toxicology