Multiple conductance channels in type-2 cerebellar astrocytes activated by excitatory amino acids

M M Usowicz, V Gallo, S G Cull-Candy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

217 Citations (Scopus)


L-GLUTAMATE and L-aspartate are thought to have a widespread function as synaptic transmitters in the mammalian central nervous system and there are at least three types of neuronal glutamate receptors, which can be activated by the selective agonists N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), quisqualate and kainate. Recent experiments indicate that glutamate receptors also occur in astrocytes. We have used patch-clamp methods to determine whether one type of macroglial cell, the type-2 astrocyte, possesses glutamate receptors, as previously proposed from neurochemical studies. We find that glutamate and related amino acids can evoke whole-cell and single-channel currents in type-2 astrocytes from rat cerebellum. Although these cells are found mainly in white matter, where neurotransmission does not occur, their processes are closely associated with axons at nodes of Ranvier, suggesting that such receptors are involved in neuronal-glial signalling at the node. Our experiments show that glial cells possess quisqualate- and kainate-receptor channels but lack receptors for NMDA. Interestingly, these glutamate channels exhibit multiple conductance levels that are similar in amplitude to the neuronal glutamate channels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-3
Number of pages4
Issue number6223
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 1989


  • Animals
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Astrocytes
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebellum
  • Convulsants
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Glutamates
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Ion Channels
  • Kainic Acid
  • N-Methylaspartate
  • Oxadiazoles
  • Quisqualic Acid
  • Rats
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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