Glutamic Acid

Glutamic acid is one of the most common non-essential amino acids. German chemist Karl Ritthausen first isolated Glutamic acid from the wheat gluten in 1866, but its chemical structure was identified only in 1890.

Chemical Structure
Structure of Glutamic Acid

IUPAC Name: (2S)-2-Aminopentanedioic acid
Symbol: Three-letter code - Glu. One-letter code - E
Molecular Weight (Molar Mass): 147.12926 g/mol
Molecular Formula (Structural Formula): C5H9NO4
Canonical SMILES: C(CC(=O)O)C(C(=O)O)N
Isomeric SMILES: C(CC(=O)O)[C@@H](C(=O)O)N
InChIKey Identifier: WHUUTDBJXJRKMK-IQTGVIGADK
CAS Number: 56-86-0
MDL Number: MFCD00002634
Melting point: 205 °C
Solubility in water: 7,5 g/L (20 °C); pKa - 2,19; pKb - 9,67
2D Molfile: Get the molfile
3D PDB file: Get the PDB file
Other names: alpha-Aminoglutaric acid; L-2-Aminoglutaric acid; 1-Aminopropane-1,3-dicarboxylic acid; Glusate; Glutacid; alpha-Glutamic acid; L-Glutaminic acid; Glutaminol; Glutaton; (S)-2-Aminopentanedioic acid


This amino acid is an excitatory neurotransmitter increasing the firing of neurons in the human central nervous system. Moreover, Glutamic acid is recognized as a major excitatory neurotransmitter in the human brain and in the spinal cord, transformted into Glutamine or Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid. This amino acid is necessary for proper cell functioning, but is considered as a non-essential amino acid, because human body is able to produce it.

Being one of the few nutrients able to pass through the blood-brain barrier, this amino acid appears to support brain function. In other words, Glutamic acid turned out to be human brain's primary 'food'. When it reaches the brain, it utilizes all excess ammonia, which is a toxic waste product of metabolism, by transforming it into the amino acid called Glutamine. In fact, this conversion is the only way our brain employs in order to be detoxified, indicating that not only is Glutamine not toxic, but it also has some essential antioxidant properties.

As for Glutamic acid, also called 'chemical messenger', it has been shown to help improve intelligence. Since it is also a messenger in human brain, it is able to enhance a clarity of thinking, mental alertness, and mood. That is why this amino acid has been used to help treat Parkinson's, fatigue, mental retardation, schizophrenia, muscular dystrophy, and alcoholism. Besides, it is believed to help shuttle potassium (an important mineral) across the blood-brain barrier and right into the spinal fluid.

Glutamic acid is also known for its ability to detoxify muscle cells. For example, when intense exercise leads to increasing levels of ammonia in muscle cells (which slows down a recovery), just as in the brain, this amino acid attaches itself to ammonia in order to form Glutamine. Besides, Glutamic acid is acting as an intermediary in the Kreb's cycle and is important for the carbohydrate metabolism.