Astrocytes contribute to many neuronal functions, including synaptogenesis, but their role in the development of synaptic plasticity remains unclear. Presynaptic muting of hippocampal glutamatergic terminals defends against excitotoxicity. Here we studied the role of astrocytes in the development of presynaptic muting at glutamatergic synapses in rat hippocampal neurons. We found that astrocytes were critical for the development of depolarization-dependent and Gi/o-dependent presynaptic muting. The ability of cAMP analogues to modulate presynaptic function was also impaired by astrocyte deficiency. Although astrocyte deprivation resulted in postsynaptic glutamate receptor deficits, this effect appeared independent of astrocytes' role in presynaptic muting. Muting was restored with chronic, but not acute, treatment with astrocyte-conditioned medium, indicating that a soluble factor is permissive for muting. Astrocyte-derived thrombospondins (TSPs) are likely responsible because TSP1 mimicked the effect of conditioned medium, and gabapentin, a highaffinity antagonist of TSP binding to the α2δ-1 calcium channel subunit, mimicked astrocyte deprivation. We found evidence that protein kinase A activity is abnormal in astrocyte-deprived neurons but restored by TSP1, so protein kinase A dysfunction may provide a mechanism by which muting is disrupted during astrocyte deficiency. In summary our results suggest an important role for astrocytederived TSPs, acting through α2δ-1, in maturation of a potentially important form of presynaptic plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13100-13110
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 19 2012


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