Physiological synaptic activity and recognition memory require astroglial glutamine

Nat Commun. 2022 Feb 8;13(1):753. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-28331-7.


Presynaptic glutamate replenishment is fundamental to brain function. In high activity regimes, such as epileptic episodes, this process is thought to rely on the glutamate-glutamine cycle between neurons and astrocytes. However the presence of an astroglial glutamine supply, as well as its functional relevance in vivo in the healthy brain remain controversial, partly due to a lack of tools that can directly examine glutamine transfer. Here, we generated a fluorescent probe that tracks glutamine in live cells, which provides direct visual evidence of an activity-dependent glutamine supply from astroglial networks to presynaptic structures under physiological conditions. This mobilization is mediated by connexin43, an astroglial protein with both gap-junction and hemichannel functions, and is essential for synaptic transmission and object recognition memory. Our findings uncover an indispensable recruitment of astroglial glutamine in physiological synaptic activity and memory via an unconventional pathway, thus providing an astrocyte basis for cognitive processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Cognition
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Glutamic Acid / chemistry
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Glutamine / chemistry
  • Glutamine / metabolism*
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Intravital Microscopy
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Animal
  • Molecular Probes
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Recognition, Psychology*
  • Rhodamines / chemistry
  • Stereotaxic Techniques
  • Synaptic Transmission*


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Molecular Probes
  • Rhodamines
  • Glutamine
  • Glutamic Acid