Glutamate-induced glutamate release: a proposed mechanism for calcium bursting in astrocytes

Raima Larter, Melissa Glendening Craig


Here we present a new model for the generation of complex calcium-bursting patterns in astrocytes, a type of brain cell recently implicated in a variety of neural functions including memory formation. The model involves two positive feedback processes, in which the key feedback species are calcium ion and glutamate. The latter is the most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain and has been shown to be involved in bidirectional communication between astrocytes and nearby neurons. The glutamate feedback process considered here is shown to be critical for the generation of complex bursting oscillations in the astrocytes and to, perhaps, code for information which may be passed from neuron to neuron via the astrocyte. These processes may be involved in memory storage and formation as well as in mechanisms which lead to dynamical diseases such as epilepsy.


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Astrocytes are glial cells that support the blood-brain barrier, facilitate neurotransmission, provide nutrients to neurons, and help repair damaged nervous tissues. Here is the latest research.