Astrocyte activation of presynaptic metabotropic glutamate receptors modulates hippocampal inhibitory synaptic transmission

Neuron Glia Biol. 2004 Nov;1(4):307-16. doi: 10.1017/S1740925X05000190.


In the CNS, fine processes of astrocytes often wrap around dendrites, axons and synapses, which provides an interface where neurons and astrocytes might interact. We have reported previously that selective Ca(2+) elevation in astrocytes, by photolysis of caged Ca(2+) by o-nitrophenyl-EGTA (NP-EGTA), causes a kainite receptor-dependent increase in the frequency of spontaneous inhibitory post-synaptic potentials (sIPSCs) in neighboring interneurons in hippocampal slices. However, tetrodotoxin (TTX), which blocks action potentials, reduces the frequency of miniature IPSCs (mIPSCs) in interneurons during Ca(2+) uncaging by an unknown presynaptic mechanism. In this study we investigate the mechanism underlying the presynaptic inhibition. We show that Ca(2+) uncaging in astrocytes is accompanied by a decrease in the amplitude of evoked IPSCs (eIPSCs) in neighboring interneurons. The decreases in eIPSC amplitude and mIPSC frequency are prevented by CPPG, a group II/III metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) antagonist, but not by the AMPA/kainate and NMDA receptor antagonists CNQX/CPP. Application of either the group II mGluR agonist DCG IV or the group III mGluR agonist L-AP4 decreased the amplitude of eIPSCs by a presynaptic mechanism, and both effects are blocked by CPPG. Thus, activation of mGluRs mediates the effects of Ca(2+) uncaging on mIPSCs and eIPSCs. Our results indicate that Ca(2+)-dependent release of glutamate from astrocytes can activate distinct classes of glutamate receptors and differentially modulate inhibitory synaptic transmission in hippocampal interneurons.