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Activity-dependent modulation of synaptic efficacy in the brain contributes to neural circuit development and experience-dependent plasticity. Although glia are affected by activity and ensheathe synapses, their influence on synaptic strength has largely been ignored. Here, we show that a protein produced by glia, tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), enhances synaptic efficacy by increasing surface expression of AMPA receptors. Preventing the actions of endogenous TNFα has the opposite effects. Thus, the continual presence of TNFα is required for preservation of synaptic strength at excitatory synapses. Through its effects on AMPA receptor trafficking, TNFα may play roles in synaptic plasticity and modulating responses to neural injury.
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