Renal insufficient patients suffer from a variety of complications as direct and indirect consequence of accumulation of retention solutes. Guanidinosuccinic acid
GSA) is an important probable uremic toxin, increased in plasma, urine, cerebrospinal fluid and brain of patientsw ith uremia and supposed to play a role in the pathogenesis of some neurological symptoms. GSA,an NMDA-receptor agonist and GABA-receptor antagonist,is suggested to act as an excitotoxin and shown to be convulsive. The effect of hippocampal (i.h.) GSA injection on behavior and hippocampal volume in mice is presented here. In addition, hippocampal cGMP concentration after systemic injection of GSA was measured. The effect of co-application of NMDA-receptor antagonist CGP37849 with GSA was tested, in vivo, after hippocampal GSA injection and, in vitro, on GSA evoked currents in spinal cord neurons. A significant dose-dependent effect of i.h. injection of GSA on cognitive performance, activity and social exploratory behavior was observed. There was a protective effect of CGP37849 on GSA induced behavioral alterations. Volume of hippocampal cornu ammonis region decreased significantly and dose-dependently after GSA injection. Systemic GSA injection increased cGMP concentration in hippocampal formation. It can be concluded that GSA is an important neurotoxin. As GSA is increased in patients with uremia, it probably contributes to their neurological symptoms. Knowledge of neurotoxic effects and mechanisms of action of GSA and other uremic retention solutes could help in the development of more efficient treatment of uremic patients. Animal models like the 'GSA mouse model' are useful tools for research in this context.