Astrocytes perform essential neuron-supporting functions in the central nervous system (CNS) and their disruption has devastating effects on neuronal integrity in multiple neuropathologies. Although astrocytes are considered resistant to most pathological insults, ischemia can result in astrocyte injury and white matter astrocytes are particularly vulnerable. Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR) are neuroprotective in ischemia and are widely expressed by astrocytes throughout CNS grey matter, but their potential cytoprotective role in astrocytes had not been determined. Here, we identify functional expression of group I mGluR in white matter astrocytes and demonstrate their activation protects astrocytes from ischemic damage in the postnatal mouse optic nerve. Optic nerve astrocytes are shown to express mGluR5 using immunolabelling of sections and explants cultures from transgenic reporter mice in which GFAP drives expression of EGFP. In addition, using Fluo-4 calcium imaging in isolated intact optic nerves, we show that the group I/II mGluR agonist ACPD and the specific group I mGluR agonist DHPG evoke glial Ca2+ signals that were significantly inhibited by the group I mGluR antagonist AIDA. A key finding is that activation of group I mGluR protects astrocytes against oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) in situ, in isolated intact optic nerves from GFAP-EGFP mice. This study identifies a role for group I mGluR in protecting astrocytes against ischemia in postnatal white matter and suggests this may be a strategy for limiting damage in neuropathologies involving excitotoxity.
- white matter