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Accueil > Bibliographie > The ultrastructure of perisynaptic glia in the nucleus tractus solitarii of (...)

The ultrastructure of perisynaptic glia in the nucleus (...)

Glia. 2011 Apr ;59(4):655-63
The ultrastructure of perisynaptic glia in the nucleus tractus solitarii of the adult rat : Comparison between single synapses and multisynaptic arrangements.
Chounlamountry K, Kessler JP.

Astrocytes are now considered as essential partners of neurons. In particular, they play important roles in glutamatergic transmission, including transmitter inactivation by uptake. Here, we investigated the organization of astroglia in the Nucleus Tractus Solitarii (NTS), a sensory nucleus located in the caudal medulla. Special attention was given to perisynaptic astroglial processes. Investigations were performed at the light and electron microscope levels, using immunodetection of glial glutamate transporters, stereological methods, and serial reconstruction. In the NTS, the main glutamate transporter expressed by astrocytes was GLT1. The volume fraction of astrocyte processes and the density of astrocyte membranes reached 15% and 2.8 μm(2) μm(-3) , respectively. In spite of the relative abundance of astrocyte processes, we found that NTS glutamatergic synapses were not entirely surrounded by glia. Measurements were performed on 43 reconstructed asymmetric junctions which were either single synapses (n = 22) or synapses involved in multisynaptic arrangements (n = 21). Single synapses had 58% of their perimeter contacted by astrocyte processes on average. In multisynaptic arrangement, glial coverage was restricted to the outer part of synaptic diameters and amounted to 50% of this outer part on average. Incomplete glial coverage of NTS synapses may allow glutamate to diffuse out of the synaptic cleft and to activate extrasynaptic receptors as well as receptors from neighboring synapses. Especially, in multisynaptic arrangements, the lack of intervening glia may favor functional coupling between individual contacts. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


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