Astrocytes control synaptic integration of adult born hippocampal neurons

Astrocytes control synaptic integration of adult born hippocampal neurons
 

Adult neurogenesis is regulated by the neurogenic niche, through mechanisms that remain poorly defined.

Researchers investigated whether niche-constituting astrocytes influence the maturation of adult-born hippocampal neurons using two independent transgenic approaches to block vesicular release from astrocytes.

In these models, adult-born neurons but not mature neurons showed reduced glutamatergic synaptic input and dendritic spine density that was accompanied with lower functional integration and cell survival.

By taking advantage of the mosaic expression of transgenes in astrocytes, authors found that spine density was reduced exclusively in segments intersecting blocked astrocytes, revealing an extrinsic, local control of spine formation.

Defects in NMDA receptor (NMDAR)-mediated synaptic transmission and dendrite maturation were partially restored by exogenous D-serine, whose extracellular level was decreased in transgenic models.

Together, these results reveal a critical role for adult astrocytes in local dendritic spine maturation, which is necessary for the NMDAR-dependent functional integration of newborn neurons.

http://www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273(15)00931-9

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