Author(s): Hertz L, Zielke HR
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Abstract It is a major recent finding that astrocytes can influence synaptic activity by release of glutamate, but many other glutamate-mediated activities are also controlled by astrocytes. Even the most obvious neuronal function of glutamate - its release as a transmitter - is regulated by astrocytes; these cells are needed for formation of precursors for glutamate synthesis, for reuptake of released transmitter, and for disposal of excess glutamate. Without astrocytic involvement, normal function of glutamatergic neurons is not possible, as exemplified by almost instantaneous abrogation of normal vision and learning upon inhibition of astrocyte-specific metabolic pathways. In addition, astrocytes are essential for production of the neuroprotectant glutathione, yet they can also contribute to neuronal death during ischemia by maintaining glutamine synthesis, enabling neuronal formation of neurotoxic glutamate.
This article was published in Trends Neurosci
and referenced in Anatomy & Physiology: Current Research