In the brain, astrocytes occupy a key position between vessels and synapses. Among their numerous functions, these glial cells are key partners of neurons during synaptic transmission. Astrocytes detect transmitter release through receptors and transporters at the level of their processes, which are in close proximity to the tow neuronal elements of synapses. In response to transmitter-mediated activation, glial cells in turn regulate synaptic transmission and neuronal excitability. This process has been reported to involve several glial receptors. One of the best known of such receptors is the metabotropic glutamatergic receptor subtype 5 (mGluR5). In the present review we will discuss the implication of mGluR5s as detectors of synaptic transmission. In particular, we will discuss how the functional properties and localization of these receptors permit the detection of the synaptic signal in a defined temporal window and a given spatial area around the synapse. Furthermore, we will review the impact of their activation on synaptic transmission.
Keywords: astrocyte; mGluR5s; synaptic transmission; tripartite synapse.
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