G protein-coupled receptor signalling in astrocytes in health and disease: a focus on metabotropic glutamate receptors

Biochem Pharmacol. 2012 Aug 1;84(3):249-59. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2012.04.009. Epub 2012 Apr 15.


Work published over the past 10-15 years has caused the neuroscience community to engage in a process of constant re-evaluation of the roles of glial cells in the mammalian central nervous system. Recent emerging evidence suggests that, in addition to carrying out various homeostatic functions within the CNS, astrocytes can also engage in a two-way dialogue with neurons. Astrocytes possess many of the receptors, and some of the ion channels, present in neurons endowing them with an ability to sense and respond to an array of neuronal signals. In addition, an expanding number of small molecules and proteins have been shown to be released by astrocytes in both health and disease. In this commentary we will highlight advances in our understanding of G protein-coupled receptor signalling in astrocytes, with a particular emphasis on metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors. Discussion will focus on the major mGlu receptors expressed in astrocytes, mGlu3 and mGlu5, how these receptors can influence different aspects of astrocyte physiology, and how signalling by these G protein-coupled receptors might change under pathophysiological circumstances.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Astrocytes / physiology*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / physiology*
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / metabolism
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate