(3S,4S)-3-(Carboxymethyl)-4-prop-1-en-2-yl-L-proline; 2-Carboxy-3-carboxymethyl-4-isopropenyl-pyrrolidine
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|Molar mass||213.23 g·mol−1|
|Melting point||215 °C (419 °F; 488 K) (decomposes)|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Kainic acid (kainate) is a natural marine acid present in some seaweed. Kainic acid is a potent neuroexcitatory amino acid that acts by activating receptors for glutamate, the principal excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Glutamate is produced by the cell’s metabolic processes and there are four major classifications of glutamate receptors: NMDA receptors, AMPA receptors, kainate receptors, and the metabotropic glutamate receptors. Kainic acid is an agonist for kainate receptors, a type of ionotropic glutamate receptor. Kainate receptors likely control a sodium channel that produces excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) when glutamate binds.
Kainic acid is commonly injected into laboratory animal models to study the effects of experimental ablation. Kainic acid is a direct agonist of the glutamic kainate receptors and large doses of concentrated solutions produce immediate neuronal death by overstimulating neurons to death. Such damage and death of neurons is referred to as an excitotoxic lesion. Thus, in large, concentrated doses kainic acid can be considered a neurotoxin, and in small doses of dilute solution kainic acid will chemically stimulate neurons.
Electrical stimulation of designated areas of the brain are generally administered by passing an electric current through a wire that is inserted into the brain to lesion a particular area of the brain. Electrical stimulation indiscriminately destroys anything in the vicinity of the electrode tip, including neural bodies and axons of neurons passing through; therefore it is difficult to attribute the effects of the lesion to a single area. Chemical stimulation is typically administered through a cannula that is inserted into the brain via stereotactic surgery. Chemical stimulation, while more complicated than electrical stimulation, has the distinct advantage of activating cell bodies, but not nearby axons, because only cell bodies and subsequent dendrites contain glutamate receptors. Therefore, chemical stimulation by kainic acid is more localized than electrical stimulation. It is important to note that both chemical and electrical lesions potentially cause additional damage to the brain due to the very nature of the inserted electrode or cannula. Therefore, the most effective ablation studies are performed in comparison to a sham lesion that duplicates all the steps of producing a brain lesion except the one that actually causes the brain damage, that is, injection of kainic acid or administration of an electrical shock.
Kainic acid is utilised in primary neuronal cell cultures  and acute brain slice preparations  to study of the physiological effect of excitotoxicity and assess the neuroprotective capabilities of potential therapeutics.
Kainic acid is a potent central nervous system excitant that is used in epilepsy research to induce seizures in experimental animals, at a typical dose of 10–30 mg/kg in mice. In addition to inducing seizures, kainic acid is excitotoxic and epileptogenic. Kainic acid induces seizures via activation of kainate receptors containing the GluK2 subunit and also through activation of AMPA receptors, for which it serves as a partial agonist. Supply shortages beginning in 2000 have caused the cost of kainic acid to rise significantly.
- antiworming agent
- neuroscience research
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- Fritsch B, Reis J, Gasior M, Kaminski RM, Rogawski MA (April 2014). "Role of GluK1 kainate receptors in seizures, epileptic discharges, and epileptogenesis". Journal of Neuroscience 34 (17): 5765–75. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5307-13.2014. PMID 24760837.