Morphological plasticity of astroglial synaptic compartment

Astrocytes are able to directly influence synaptic transmission in certain brain regions by changing their morphology and thus remodelling the structure of the

Regions Schwann Cell

Figure 7.13 Example of modulation of synaptic transmission by glia. Stimulation of astrocytes in astroglial neuronal co-cultures significantly reduces the amplitudes of glutamatergic excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) in neighbouring neurones. (Modified from Araque A, Parpura V, Sanzgiri RP Haydon PG (1998) Glutamate-dependent astrocyte modulation of synaptic transmission between cultured hippocampal neurons. Eur J Neurosci 10, 2129-2142)

Figure 7.13 Example of modulation of synaptic transmission by glia. Stimulation of astrocytes in astroglial neuronal co-cultures significantly reduces the amplitudes of glutamatergic excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) in neighbouring neurones. (Modified from Araque A, Parpura V, Sanzgiri RP Haydon PG (1998) Glutamate-dependent astrocyte modulation of synaptic transmission between cultured hippocampal neurons. Eur J Neurosci 10, 2129-2142)

Nonlactating period Lactating period

Glia Synapses During Lactating Rats

^ NMDA receptor [V; AMPAreceptor

Figure 7.14 Morphological plasticity of astroglia in hypothalamus. Upon lactation astrocyte processes shrink, thus allowing more glutamate in the synaptic cleft, thereby strengthening synaptic transmission. (Modified from Sykova E (2004) Extrasynaptic volume transmission and diffusion parameters of the extracellular space Neuroscience 129, 861-876)

synapse. The most prominent example of such morphological plasticity is observed in the supra-optic nucleus. During lactation (which is associated with high levels of oxytocin), astrocytes withdraw their processes from synapses, which increases the effective extracellular glutamate concentration and decreases glutamate uptake, thereby strengthening glutamatergic transmission (Figure 7.14).

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