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Science 327 (5970): 1250-1254

Copyright © 2010 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Hippocampal Short- and Long-Term Plasticity Are Not Modulated by Astrocyte Ca2+ Signaling

Cendra Agulhon,1,* Todd A. Fiacco,2 Ken D. McCarthy1

Abstract: The concept that astrocytes release neuroactive molecules (gliotransmitters) to affect synaptic transmission has been a paradigm shift in neuroscience research over the past decade. This concept suggests that astrocytes, together with pre- and postsynaptic neuronal elements, make up a functional synapse. Astrocyte release of gliotransmitters (for example, glutamate and adenosine triphosphate) is generally accepted to be a Ca2+-dependent process. We used two mouse lines to either selectively increase or obliterate astrocytic Gq G protein–coupled receptor Ca2+ signaling to further test the hypothesis that astrocytes release gliotransmitters in a Ca2+-dependent manner to affect synaptic transmission. Neither increasing nor obliterating astrocytic Ca2+ fluxes affects spontaneous and evoked excitatory synaptic transmission or synaptic plasticity. Our findings suggest that, at least in the hippocampus, the mechanisms of gliotransmission need to be reconsidered.

1 Department of Pharmacology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Genetic Medicine Building, CB 7365, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
2 Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: cendra_agulhon{at}

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