A dialogue between glia and neurons in the retina: Modulation of neuronal excitability

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Bidirectional signaling between neurons and glial cells has been demonstrated in brain slices and is believed to mediate glial modulation of synaptic transmission in the CNS. Our laboratory has characterized similar neuron—glia signaling in the mam-malian retina. We find that light-evoked neuronal activity elicits Ca2+ increases in Muller cells, which are specialized retinal glial cells. Neuron to glia signaling is likely mediated by the release of ATP from neurons and is potentiated by adenosine. Glia to neuron signaling has also been observed and is mediated by several mechanisms. Stimulation of glial cells can result in either facilitation or depression of synaptic transmission. Release of D-serine from Muller cells might also potentiate NMDA receptor transmission. Muller cells directly inhibit ganglion cells by releasing ATP, which, following hydrolysis to adenosine, activates neuronal A1 receptors. The existence of bidirectional signaling mechanisms indicates that glial cells participate in information processing in the retina.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-252
Number of pages8
JournalNeuron Glia Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004


  • ATP
  • Calcium
  • Muller cell
  • adenosine
  • astrocyte
  • ganglion cell
  • glial cell
  • light response
  • retina


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