Table of Contents
ISRN Neurology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 893605, 16 pages
Research Article

Lesion-Induced Alterations in Astrocyte Glutamate Transporter Expression and Function in the Hippocampus

Institute of Neurobiology, Heinrich Heine University Duesseldorf, Universitaetsstraße 1, Building 26.02.00, 40225 Duesseldorf, Germany

Received 3 July 2013; Accepted 27 July 2013

Academic Editors: S. C. Barnett and J.-I. Satoh

Copyright © 2013 Alexandra E. Schreiner et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Astrocytes express the sodium-dependent glutamate transporters GLAST and GLT-1, which are critical to maintain low extracellular glutamate concentrations. Here, we analyzed changes in their expression and function following a mechanical lesion in the CA1 area of organotypic hippocampal slices. 6-7 days after lesion, a glial scar had formed along the injury site, containing strongly activated astrocytes with increased GFAP and S100β immunoreactivity, enlarged somata, and reduced capability for uptake of SR101. Astrocytes in the scar’s periphery were swollen as well, but showed only moderate upregulation of GFAP and S100β and efficiently took up SR101. In the scar, clusters of GLT-1 and GLAST immunoreactivity colocalized with GFAP-positive fibers. Apart from these, GLT-1 immunoreactivity declined with increasing distance from the scar, whereas GLAST expression appeared largely uniform. Sodium imaging in reactive astrocytes indicated that glutamate uptake was strongly reduced in the scar but maintained in the periphery. Our results thus show that moderately reactive astrocytes in the lesion periphery maintain overall glutamate transporter expression and function. Strongly reactive astrocytes in the scar, however, display clusters of GLAST and GLT-1 immunoreactivity together with reduced glutamate transport activity. This reduction might contribute to increased extracellular glutamate concentrations and promote excitotoxic cell damage at the lesion site.