Astrocytes, from brain glue to communication elements: the revolution continues

  title={Astrocytes, from brain glue to communication elements: the revolution continues},
  author={Andrea Volterra and Jacopo Meldolesi},
  journal={Nature Reviews Neuroscience},
For decades, astrocytes have been considered to be non-excitable support cells of the brain. However, this view has changed radically during the past twenty years. The recent recognition that they are organized in separate territories and possess active properties — notably a competence for the regulated release of 'gliotransmitters', including glutamate — has enabled us to develop an understanding of previously unknown functions for astrocytes. Today, astrocytes are seen as local communication… 
Morphology and properties of astrocytes.
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  • Biology, Chemistry
    Methods in molecular biology
  • 2011
The reader will be introduced to the role of astrocytes in blood-brain barrier maintenance, in Ca2+ signaling, in synaptic transmission, in CNS synaptogenesis, and as neural progenitor cells.
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A synopsis of the activities astrocytes perform in normal conditions is provided, and what goes wrong with these cells in specific pathological conditions, such as Alzheimer Disease, prion diseases and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are discussed.
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Gliotransmission: Beyond Black-and-White
It is argued that gliotransmission is a more complex phenomenon than originally thought, possibly consisting of multiple forms and signaling processes, whose correct study and understanding require more sophisticated tools and finer scientific experiments than done until today.
Astrocytes in Memory Function: Pioneering Findings and Future Directions
Astrocytes: News about Brain Health and Diseases
Astrocytes, previously believed to be homogeneous, are now recognized to be heterogeneous, composed by types distinct in structure, distribution, and function; their cooperation with microglia is known to govern local neuroinflammation and brain restoration upon traumatic injuries; and astrocyte senescence is relevant for the development of both health and diseases.
Gliotransmission and the tripartite synapse.
By releasing gliotransmitters in millisecond time scale with a specific vesicular apparatus, astrocytes can integrate and process synaptic information and control or modulate synaptic transmission and plasticity.
Astrocyte–Neuron Communication: Functional Consequences
This review will summarize the principal studies that have investigated a potential role of astrocytes in the various functions regulated by the brain (sleep, breathing, perception, learning and memory…) to highlight the similarities and discrepancies in the signaling pathways involved in the different areas of the brain related to these functions.


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Glia: listening and talking to the synapse
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  • Biology
    Nature Reviews Neuroscience
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It is no longer appropriate to consider solely neuron–neuron connections; it is also necessary to develop a view of the intricate web of active connections among glial cells, and between glia and neurons.
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The concept of glial cells as active elements of the synapse and the nervous circuitry is introduced, the experimental evidence supporting this is described and a revised view of brain activity based on this integrated network of interactive neurons and glia is suggested.
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It is shown that few synapses form in the absence of glial cells and that the fewsynapses that do form are functionally immature, and that CNS synapse number can be profoundly regulated by nonneuronal signals.
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Astrocytes are considered a reticulate network of cells, through which calcium signals can spread easily. In Bergmann glia, astrocytic cells of the cerebellum, we identified subcellular compartments
Protoplasmic Astrocytes in CA1 Stratum Radiatum Occupy Separate Anatomical Domains
These findings show that protoplasmic astrocytes establish primarily exclusive territories, which should have important implications for the understanding of nervous system function.
Neuron-to-astrocyte signaling is central to the dynamic control of brain microcirculation
In vivo blockade of glutamate-mediated [Ca2+]i elevations in astrocytes reduced the blood flow increase in the somatosensory cortex during contralateral forepaw stimulation and showed that neuron-to-astrocyte signaling is a key mechanism in functional hyperemia.