2005 Volume 28 Issue 9 Pages 1566-1570
D-Aspartate (D-Asp) is an endogenous amino acid present in nervous and endocrine tissues in mammals. A high concentration of D-Asp is observed in embryos, which disappears in nervous tissues after delivery, but increases temporarily in endocrine glands, particularly in the pituitary, pineal and adrenal glands at the specific stages. In the pineal gland, D-Asp that is apparently derived from other tissues suppresses melatonin secretion from parenchymal cells. Additionally, D-Asp levels increase in the testis just before birth and during maturation. The amino acid is presumed to be synthesized by the pituitary gland and testis. In the testis, D-Asp produced inside the seminiferous tubules acts on Leydig cells following release to enhance testosterone synthesis by activating the expression of Steroidogenic Acute Regulatory protein. Mammalian cells appear to contain all the molecular components required to regulate D-Asp homeostasis, as they can synthesize, release, take up, and degrade the amino acid. These findings collectively indicate that D-Asp is a novel type of messenger in the mammalian body.