Beyond the role of glutamate as a neurotransmitter

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2002 Sep;3(9):748-55. doi: 10.1038/nrn916.


Glutamate is the principal excitatory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system, but many studies have expanded its functional repertoire by showing that glutamate receptors are present in a variety of non-excitable cells. How does glutamate receptor activation modulate their activity? Do non-excitable cells release glutamate, and, if so, how? These questions remain enigmatic. Here, we review the current knowledge on glutamatergic signalling in non-neuronal cells, with a special emphasis on astrocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / cytology
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Glutamate / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Glutamic Acid