Zinc inhibition of gamma-aminobutyric acid transporter 4 (GAT4) reveals a link between excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission
Sorry for the long title, but this one has some interesting implications. First, a bit on neurotransmitters. Glutamate is excitatory and stimulates the neuron to fire. Too much and you can ultimately burn out the neuron (this is one of the concerns with neuroexcitotoxins like MSG and aspartame).
GABA is inhibitory and counteracts the effects of glutamate. Many anti-seizure medications act by mimicking GABA. With this background, one of the long-time findings is that aluminum can increase risk of Alzheimer’s. Well, we know that aluminum knocks out zinc in the body, much like those perpetual motion ball thingies.
In this article, we see that synapses that release glutamate, which, in too high levels can damage a neuron, also release zinc at the same time to protect against overactive glutamate. It’s funny how we develop a theory or assumption, and years or even decades later we begin to elucidate exactly why the theory works.