Glutamate receptors of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) type are involved in many cognitive processes,
including behavior, learning and synaptic plasticity. For a long time NMDA receptors were thought to be the privileged
domain of neurons; however, discoveries of the last 25 years have demonstrated their active role in glial cells as well.
Despite the large number of studies in the field, there are many unresolved questions connected with NMDA receptors in
glia that are still a matter of debate. The main objective of this review is to shed light on these controversies by
summarizing results from all relevant works concerning astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and polydendrocytes (also known as
NG2 glial cells) in experimental animals, further extended by studies performed on human glia. The results are divided
according to the study approach to enable a better comparison of how findings obtained at the mRNA level correspond
with protein expression or functionality. Furthermore, special attention is focused on the NMDA receptor subunits present
in the particular glial cell types, which give them special characteristics different from those of neurons for example, the
absence of Mg2+ block and decreased Ca2+ permeability. Since glial cells are implicated in important physiological and
pathophysiological roles in the central nervous system (CNS), the last part of this review provides an overview of glial
NMDA receptors with respect to ischemic brain injury.
Keywords: Astrocytes, ischemia, NG2 glia, NMDA receptors, oligodendrocyte progenitors, oligodendrocytes, polydendrocytes.
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