Synaptic facilitation is a major form of short-term plasticity typically driven by an increase in residual presynaptic calcium. Using near-total internal reflection fluorescence (near-TIRF) imaging of single vesicle release in cultured hippocampal synapses, we demonstrate a distinctive, release-dependent form of facilitation in which probability of vesicle release is higher following a successful glutamate release event than following a failure. This phenomenon has an onset of ≤500 ms and lasts several seconds, resulting in clusters of successful release events. The release-dependent facilitation requires neuronal contact with astrocytes and astrocytic glutamate uptake by EAAT1. It is not observed in neurons grown alone or in the presence of astrocyte-conditioned media. This form of facilitation dynamically amplifies multi-vesicular release. Facilitation-evoked release events exhibit spatial clustering and have a preferential localization toward the active zone center. These results uncover a rapid astrocyte-dependent form of facilitation acting via modulation of multi-vesicular release and displaying distinctive spatiotemporal properties.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111820
JournalCell Reports
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 13 2022


  • CP: Neuroscience
  • astrocyte
  • central synapse
  • facilitation
  • multi-vesicle release
  • neurotransmitter release


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