Caloric restriction triggers morphofunctional remodeling of astrocytes and enhances synaptic plasticity in the mouse hippocampus

Alexander Popov, Pavel Denisov, Maxim Bychkov, Alexey Brazhe, Ekaterina Lyukmanova, Zakhar Shenkarev, Natalia Lazareva, Alexei Verkhratsky, Alexey Semyanov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Calorie-restricted (CR) diet has multiple beneficial effects on brain function. Here we report morphological and functional changes in hippocampal astrocytes in 3-months-old mice subjected to 1 month of the diet. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings were performed in the CA1 stratum (str.) radiatum astrocytes of hippocampal slices. The cells were also loaded with fluorescent dye through the patch pipette. CR did not affect the number of astrocytic branches but increased the volume fraction (VF) of distal perisynaptic astrocytic leaflets. The astrocyte growth did not lead to a decrease in the cell input resistance, which may be attributed to a decrease in astrocyte coupling through the gap junctions. Western blotting revealed a decrease in the expression of Cx43 but not Cx30. Immunocytochemical analysis demonstrated a decrease in the density and size of Cx43 clusters. Cx30 cluster density did not change, while their size increased in the vicinity of astrocytic soma. CR shortened K+ and glutamate transporter currents in astrocytes in response to 5 × 50 Hz Schaffer collateral stimulation. However, no change in the expression of astrocytic glutamate transporter 1 (GLT-1) was observed, while the level of glutamine synthetase (GS) decreased. These findings suggest that enhanced enwrapping of synapses by the astrocytic leaflets reduces glutamate and K+ spillover. Reduced spillover led to a decreased contribution of extrasynaptic N2B containing N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) to the tail of burst-induced EPSCs. The magnitude of long-term potentiation (LTP) in the glutamatergic CA3–CA1 synapses was significantly enhanced after CR. This enhancement was abolished by N2B-NMDARs antagonist. Our findings suggest that astrocytic morphofunctional remodeling is responsible for enhanced synaptic plasticity, which provides a basis for improved learning and memory reported after CR.

Original languageEnglish
Article number208
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


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