Astrocyte-mediated control of cerebral microcirculation.
ABSTRACT Characterization of astrocyte Ca2+ dynamics has been a topic of considerable emphasis for more than a decade. Only recently, however, has the physiological significance of astrocyte Ca2+ signaling started to become clear. Several studies have shown that astrocyte Ca2+ levels become elevated in response to neuronal input and that this, in turn, influences synaptic activity. A novel function of astrocyte Ca2+ signaling has been described by Zonta et al., whereby neuron-induced astrocyte Ca2+ elevations can lead to secretion of vasodilatory substances from perivascular astrocyte endfeet, resulting in improved local blood flow. This finding represents a breakthrough in our knowledge both of astrocyte function and of the mechanism of activity-dependent cerebral blood flow regulation.
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ABSTRACT: In CNS lesions, "reactive astrocytes" form a prominent cellular response. However, the nature of this astrocyte immune activity is not well understood. In order to study astrocytic immune responses to inflammation and injury, we generated mice with conditional deletion of p38α (MAPK14) in GFAP+ astrocytes. We studied the role of p38α signaling in astrocyte immune activation both in vitro and in vivo, and simultaneously examined the effects of astrocyte activation in CNS inflammation. Our results showed that specific subsets of cytokines (TNFα, IL-6) and chemokines (CCL2, CCL4, CXCL1, CXCL2, CXCL10) are critically regulated by p38α signaling in astrocytes. In an in vivo CNS inflammation model of intracerebral injection of LPS, we observed markedly attenuated astrogliosis in conditional GFAPcre p38α(-/-) mice. However, GFAPcre p38α(-/-) mice showed marked upregulation of CCL2, CCL3, CCL4, CXCL2, CXCL10, TNFα, and IL-1β compared to p38αfl/fl cohorts, suggesting that in vivo responses to LPS after GFAPcre p38α deletion are complex and involve interactions between multiple cell types. This finding was supported by a prominent increase in macrophage/microglia and neutrophil recruitment in GFAPcre p38α(-/-) mice compared to p38αfl/fl controls. Together, these studies provide important insights into the critical role of p38α signaling in astrocyte immune activation.Scientific reports. 01/2014; 4:7405.
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ABSTRACT: The role of astrocytes in brain function has evolved over the last decade, from support cells to active participants in the neuronal synapse through the release of "gliotransmitters."Astrocytes express receptors for most neurotransmitters and respond to them through Ca(2+) intracellular oscillations and propagation of intercellular Ca(2+) waves. While such waves are able to propagate among neighboring astrocytes through gap junctions, thereby activating several astrocytes simultaneously, they can also trigger the release of gliotransmitters, including glutamate, d-serine, glycine, ATP, adenosine, or GABA. There are several mechanisms by which gliotransmitter release occurs, including functional hemichannels. These gliotransmitters can activate neighboring astrocytes and participate in the propagation of intercellular Ca(2+) waves, or activate pre- and post-synaptic receptors, including NMDA, AMPA, and purinergic receptors. In consequence, hemichannels could play a pivotal role in astrocyte-to-astrocyte communication and astrocyte-to-neuron cross-talk. Recent evidence suggests that astroglial hemichannels are involved in higher brain functions including memory and glucose sensing. The present review will focus on the role of hemichannels in astrocyte-to-astrocyte and astrocyte-to neuron communication and in brain physiology.Frontiers in physiology. 01/2014; 5:193.