In the CNS, glutamate is both phasically and tonically released into the extracellular space and must be removed by excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs) to prevent excitotoxic accumulation. There remains uncertainty, however, regarding the functional steady-state concentration, with estimates ranging from tens of nanomolar to tens of micromolar. Efforts to reconcile these disparate values have led to a hypothesis that the extracellular space comprises distinct compartments in which basal glutamate concentrations are maintained independently. We used electrophysiology and two-photon Ca2+ imaging to test this hypothesis in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), where it has been proposed that micromolar extracellular glutamate is necessary for normal function. We found that the average concentration of synaptic glutamate is nanomolar, in agreement with previous electrophysiological estimates. Furthermore, this held true when glutamate uptake was inhibited, indicating that extracellular glutamate is not compartmentalized by EAATs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)