Activation of G protein coupled receptor (GPCR) in astrocytes leads to Ca2+-dependent glutamate release via Bestrophin 1 (Best1) channel. Whether receptor-mediated glutamate release from astrocytes can regulate synaptic plasticity remains to be fully understood. We show here that Best1-mediated astrocytic glutamate activates the synaptic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) and modulates NMDAR-dependent synaptic plasticity. Our data show that activation of the protease-activated receptor 1 (PAR1) in hippocampal CA1 astrocytes elevates the glutamate concentration at Schaffer collateral-CA1 (SC-CA1) synapses, resulting in activation of GluN2A-containing NMDARs and NMDAR-dependent potentiation of synaptic responses. Furthermore, the threshold for inducing NMDAR-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP) is lowered when astrocytic glutamate release accompanied LTP induction, suggesting that astrocytic glutamate is significant in modulating synaptic plasticity. Our results provide direct evidence for the physiological importance of channel-mediated astrocytic glutamate in modulating neural circuit functions.
Park, H., Han, K. S., Seo, J., Lee, J., Dravid, S. M., Woo, J., … Lee, C. J. (2015). Channel-mediated astrocytic glutamate modulates hippocampal synaptic plasticity by activating postsynaptic NMDA receptors. Molecular Brain, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13041-015-0097-y