Glial contributions to excitatory neurotransmission in cultured hippocampal cells

Nature. 1994 Mar 3;368(6466):59-62. doi: 10.1038/368059a0.


Although many glial cells possess neurotransmitter receptors and transporters, little is known about glial participation in neurotransmission. To explore this issue, we recorded neuronal autaptic and glial responses from cultured hippocampal single-neuron micro-islands. Excitatory synaptic events activate rapid electrogenic glial glutamate transporter currents similar to those elicited by exogenous glutamate in other preparations. We show here that glial transporter responses may be used to sense changes in presynaptic efficacy and that glial uptake helps to remove synaptically released glutamate, thereby contributing to the termination of excitatory synaptic currents under certain conditions. These observations provide a framework for understanding the role of glia in both normal and pathological processes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG
  • Animals
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Aspartic Acid / pharmacology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Electrophysiology
  • Glutamates / metabolism*
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Lithium / pharmacology
  • Neuroglia / cytology
  • Neuroglia / physiology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission*


  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG
  • Glutamates
  • Glycoproteins
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • 3-hydroxyaspartic acid
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Lithium