In this study we address the effects of methylmercuric chloride (MeHgCl), a metal that is preferentially sequestered in astrocytes, on 5-HT and glutamate/aspartate uptake by rat primary astrocyte cultures. Quantitative autoradiography (ARG) combined with glial acidic fibrillary protein (GFAP) immunocytochemistry, as well as intact-cell (bulk) measurements of radiolabel uptake of these neurotransmitters were performed in 7- and 21-day-old primary astrocyte cultures. MeHg (10 μM for 30 min) treatment of astrocytes (21 days in culture) significantly inhibited the Na+-dependent and fluoxetine-sensitive [3H]5-HT uptake. D-aspartate uptake in 7- and 21-day-old cultures was even more sensitive to MeHg, leading to > 99% inhibition of D-aspartate uptake by astrocytes (30 min; 10μM MeHg). These results imply that the Na+-dependent and fluoxetine-sensitive 5-HT uptake, as well as the Na+-dependent L-glutamate/D-aspartate uptake systems in primary astrocyte cultures are sensitive to low concentrations of MeHg. Since astrocytic removal of glutamate (and aspartate) and 5-HT from the extracellular space in situ is crucial to the maintenance of chemical homeostasis, MeHg-induced uptake inhibition of 5-HT and aspartate could have cytotoxic effects on neighboring neurons.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience