Glial cells in (patho)physiology
Article first published online: 2 FEB 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Journal of Neurochemistry © 2012 International Society for Neurochemistry
Journal of Neurochemistry
Volume 121, Issue 1, pages 4–27, April 2012
How to Cite
Parpura, V., Heneka, M. T., Montana, V., Oliet, S. H. R., Schousboe, A., Haydon, P. G., Stout, R. F., Spray, D. C., Reichenbach, A., Pannicke, T., Pekny, M., Pekna, M., Zorec, R. and Verkhratsky, A. (2012), Glial cells in (patho)physiology. Journal of Neurochemistry, 121: 4–27. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2012.07664.x
- Issue published online: 14 MAR 2012
- Article first published online: 2 FEB 2012
- Accepted manuscript online: 17 JAN 2012 07:08PM EST
- Received December 4, 2011; revised manuscript received January 11, 2012; accepted January 11, 2012.
J. Neurochem. (2012) 121, 4–27.
Neuroglial cells define brain homeostasis and mount defense against pathological insults. Astroglia regulate neurogenesis and development of brain circuits. In the adult brain, astrocytes enter into intimate dynamic relationship with neurons, especially at synaptic sites where they functionally form the tripartite synapse. At these sites, astrocytes regulate ion and neurotransmitter homeostasis, metabolically support neurons and monitor synaptic activity; one of the readouts of the latter manifests in astrocytic intracellular Ca2+ signals. This form of astrocytic excitability can lead to release of chemical transmitters via Ca2+-dependent exocytosis. Once in the extracellular space, gliotransmitters can modulate synaptic plasticity and cause changes in behavior. Besides these physiological tasks, astrocytes are fundamental for progression and outcome of neurological diseases. In Alzheimer’s disease, for example, astrocytes may contribute to the etiology of this disorder. Highly lethal glial-derived tumors use signaling trickery to coerce normal brain cells to assist tumor invasiveness. This review not only sheds new light on the brain operation in health and disease, but also points to many unknowns.