Glial glutamate transporters mediate a functional metabolic crosstalk between neurons and astrocytes in the mouse developing cortex.
Neuron-glia interactions are essential for synaptic function, and glial glutamate (re)uptake plays a key role at glutamatergic synapses. In knockout mice, for either glial glutamate transporters, GLAST or GLT-1, a classical metabolic response to synaptic activation (i.e., enhancement of glucose utilization) is decreased at an early functional stage in the somatosensory barrel cortex following activation of whiskers. Investigation in vitro demonstrates that glial glutamate transport represents a critical step for triggering enhanced glucose utilization, but also lactate release from astrocytes through a mechanism involving changes in intracellular Na(+) concentration. These data suggest that a metabolic crosstalk takes place between neurons and astrocytes in the developing cortex, which would be regulated by synaptic activity and mediated by glial glutamate transporters.