Issue 7, 2011

Dynamic action of neurometals at the synapse


There are synaptic vesicles that are labeled by Timm's sulfide-silver staining method in the brain, suggesting that synaptic vesicles contain metals such as zinc and copper. Zinc is co-released with glutamate and the importance of zinc signaling in the intracellular compartment, in addition to extracellular compartment, is becoming recognized. Zinc can pass through calcium channels, while blocking them. Calcium signaling plays a critical role for synaptic activity and crosstalk between zinc signaling with calcium signaling through calcium channels may participate in synaptic neurotransmission including synaptic plasticity such as long-term potentiation. Copper released into the synaptic cleft during synaptic excitation may also participate in synaptic neurotransmission. Other metals including copper potentially serve as calcium channel blockers and also influence calcium signaling and zinc signalingvia the interaction with metal-binding proteins such as metallothioneins. Homeostasis of metals needs to be controlled spatiotemporally for proper brain function, and their dyshomeostasis is associated with neurological diseases. However, the data on the dynamic action of metals at synapses is limited and their significance poorly understood. This paper summarizes the action of metals in synaptic neurotransmission focused on calcium signaling at glutamatergic synapses.

Graphical abstract: Dynamic action of neurometals at the synapse

Article information

Article type
24 Jan 2011
24 Feb 2011
First published
15 Mar 2011

Metallomics, 2011,3, 656-661