• GFP transgenic mice;
  • glia;
  • neurotransmitters;
  • receptors;
  • spinal cord slice;
  • tissue culture


Microglia in the brain possess dynamic processes that continually sample the surrounding parenchyma and respond to local insults by rapidly converging on the site of an injury. One of the chemotaxic agents responsible for this response is ATP. Here we show that the transmitter glutamate is another such chemotaxic agent. Microglia exposed to glutamate increase their cell membrane ruffling and migrate to a source of glutamate in cell culture and in spinal cord slices. This chemotaxis is meditated by α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) and metabotropic glutamate receptors on the microglia. Chemotaxis is dependent on redistribution of actin filaments in the cells and on tubulin following receptor activation. Thus glutamate, which is released at synapses as well as from damaged cells, can mediate rapid chemotaxic responses from microglial cells.