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Cereb Cortex. 2012 Jul;22(7):1690-7. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhr254. Epub 2011 Sep 12.

Immunogold detection of L-glutamate and D-serine in small synaptic-like microvesicles in adult hippocampal astrocytes.

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Department of Anatomy, Centre for Molecular Biology and Neuroscience, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo, 0317 Oslo, Norway.


Glutamate and the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor ligand D-serine are putative gliotransmitters. Here, we show by immunogold cytochemistry of the adult hippocampus that glutamate and D-serine accumulate in synaptic-like microvesicles (SLMVs) in the perisynaptic processes of astrocytes. The estimated concentration of fixed glutamate in the astrocytic SLMVs is comparable to that in synaptic vesicles of excitatory nerve terminals (≈ 45 and ≈ 55 mM, respectively), whereas the D-serine level is about 6 mM. The vesicles are organized in small spaced clusters located near the astrocytic plasma membrane. Endoplasmic reticulum is regularly found in close vicinity to SLMVs, suggesting that astrocytes contain functional nanodomains, where a local Ca(2+) increase can trigger release of glutamate and/or D-serine.

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