Contribution of astrocytes to synaptic transmission in the rat supraoptic nucleus. - Inserm - Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale Access content directly
Journal Articles Neurochemistry International Year : 2004

Contribution of astrocytes to synaptic transmission in the rat supraoptic nucleus.


Astrocytes, besides supporting metabolic and scaffolding functions, play a prominent role in the modulation of neuronal communication. In particular, they are responsible for clearing synaptically-released glutamate via highly specific transporters located on their plasma membrane. Since glutamate is the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system (CNS), astrocytes are likely to play a central role in the regulation of synaptic processing and overall cellular excitability. We recently investigated the influence of astrocytes on glutamatergic and GABAergic transmission in the rat supraoptic nucleus (SON) of the hypothalamus. This nucleus is part of the hypothalamus-neurohypophysial system (HNS), which constitutes a conspicuous example of activity-dependent neuroglial plasticity, in which certains physiological conditions, such as parturition, lactation, and dehydration are accompanied by a structural remodeling of the neurones, their synaptic inputs and their surrounding glia. The use of pharmacological inhibitors of glutamate transporters on this model, in which a physiological change in the astrocyte environment occurs, has brought new insights on the contribution of astrocytes to both excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmissions. The astrocytic environment of neurons appears to control glutamate uptake and diffusion in the extracellular space. This has direct repercussions on the tonic level of activation of presynaptic glutamate receptors and, as a consequence, on the release of neurotransmitter. This short review summarizes data obtained so far, which clearly support the view that astrocytes are indeed a third partner in synaptic transmission, and which show that the supraoptic nucleus represents a remarkable model to study dynamic physiological interactions between astrocytes and neurons.

Dates and versions

inserm-00000070 , version 1 (29-03-2006)



Richard Piet, Dominique Paris-Poulain, Stéphane H.R. Oliet. Contribution of astrocytes to synaptic transmission in the rat supraoptic nucleus.. Neurochemistry International, 2004, 45, pp.251-7. ⟨10.1016/j.neuint.2003.07.005⟩. ⟨inserm-00000070⟩
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