Control of Glutamate Clearance and Synaptic Efficacy by Glial Coverage of Neurons

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Science  04 May 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5518, pp. 923-926
DOI: 10.1126/science.1059162

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Analysis of excitatory synaptic transmission in the rat hypothalamic supraoptic nucleus revealed that glutamate clearance and, as a consequence, glutamate concentration and diffusion in the extracellular space, is associated with the degree of astrocytic coverage of its neurons. Reduction in glutamate clearance, whether induced pharmacologically or associated with a relative decrease of glial coverage in the vicinity of synapses, affected transmitter release through modulation of presynaptic metabotropic glutamate receptors. Astrocytic wrapping of neurons, therefore, contributes to the regulation of synaptic efficacy in the central nervous system.

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