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Astrocytes Maintain Glutamate Homeostasis in the CNS by Controlling the Balance between Glutamate Uptake and Release

Astrocytes Maintain Glutamate Homeostasis in the CNS by Controlling the Balance between Glutamate Uptake and Release

Cells 8(2)

ISSN/ISBN: 2073-4409

PMID: 30791579

DOI: 10.3390/cells8020184

Glutamate is one of the most prevalent neurotransmitters released by excitatory neurons in the central nervous system (CNS); however, residual glutamate in the extracellular space is, potentially, neurotoxic. It is now well-established that one of the fundamental functions of astrocytes is to uptake most of the synaptically-released glutamate, which optimizes neuronal functions and prevents glutamate excitotoxicity. In the CNS, glutamate clearance is mediated by glutamate uptake transporters expressed, principally, by astrocytes. Interestingly, recent studies demonstrate that extracellular glutamate stimulates Ca2+ release from the astrocytes' intracellular stores, which triggers glutamate release from astrocytes to the adjacent neurons, mostly by an exocytotic mechanism. This released glutamate is believed to coordinate neuronal firing and mediate their excitatory or inhibitory activity. Therefore, astrocytes contribute to glutamate homeostasis in the CNS, by maintaining the balance between their opposing functions of glutamate uptake and release. This dual function of astrocytes represents a potential therapeutic target for CNS diseases associated with glutamate excitotoxicity. In this regard, we summarize the molecular mechanisms of glutamate uptake and release, their regulation, and the significance of both processes in the CNS. Also, we review the main features of glutamate metabolism and glutamate excitotoxicity and its implication in CNS diseases.

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Accession: 066519601

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