Astrocytes revisited: concise historic outlook on glutamate homeostasis and signaling.
Astroglia is a main type of brain neuroglia, which includes many cell sub-types that differ in their morphology and physiological properties and yet are united by the main function, which is the maintenance of brain homeostasis. Astrocytes employ a variety of mechanisms for communicating with neuronal networks. The communication mediated by neurotransmitter glutamate has received a particular attention. Glutamate is de novo synthesized exclusively in astrocytes; astroglia-derived glutamine is the source of glutamate for neurons. Glutamate is released from both neurons and astroglia through exocytosis, although various other mechanisms may also play a role. Glutamate-activated specific receptors trigger excitatory responses in neurons and astroglia. Here we overview main properties of glutamatergic transmission in neuronal-glial networks and identify some future challenges facing the field.