Astrocytes revisited: concise historic outlook on glutamate homeostasis and signaling

Croat Med J. 2012 Dec;53(6):518-28. doi: 10.3325/cmj.2012.53.518.


Astroglia is a main type of brain neuroglia, which includes many cell sub-types that differ in their morphology and physiological properties and yet are united by the main function, which is the maintenance of brain homeostasis. Astrocytes employ a variety of mechanisms for communicating with neuronal networks. The communication mediated by neurotransmitter glutamate has received a particular attention. Glutamate is de novo synthesized exclusively in astrocytes; astroglia-derived glutamine is the source of glutamate for neurons. Glutamate is released from both neurons and astroglia through exocytosis, although various other mechanisms may also play a role. Glutamate-activated specific receptors trigger excitatory responses in neurons and astroglia. Here we overview main properties of glutamatergic transmission in neuronal-glial networks and identify some future challenges facing the field.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / physiology*
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Glutamic Acid