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Neurochem Int. 2010 Mar;56(4):577-84. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2009.12.021. Epub 2010 Jan 12.

Glutamine synthetase down-regulation reduces astrocyte protection against glutamate excitotoxicity to neurons.

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Department of Neurobiology, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200025, PR China.


Although the role of astrocyte glutamate transporters in glutamate clearance is well illustrated, the role of glutamine synthetase (GS) that influences this process remains to be elucidated. We examined whether GS affected the uptake of glutamate in astrocytes in vitro. The glutamate uptake was assessed by measuring the concentration of glutamate and glutamine in culture medium in the presence or absence of glutamate. We demonstrated that inhibition of GS in astrocytes by MSO significantly impaired glutamate uptake and glutamine release. Conversely, induction of GS expression in astrocytes by gene transfer significantly enhanced the glutamate uptake and glutamine release. When an inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) was applied to the cultures, it significantly reduced GS expression and inhibited glutamate-induced GS activation resulting in increased excitotoxicity to neurons. These results suggest that GS in astrocytes may represent a novel target for neuroprotection against neuronal dysfunction and death that occur in many neurological disorders.

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