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Sci. STKE, 28 June 2005
Vol. 2005, Issue 290, p. tr19
[DOI: 10.1126/stke.2902005tr19]


Glial Intercellular Waves

Andrew Charles*

Department of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, 710 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.

Abstract: Glial cells have long been assigned a supporting role in the nervous system, in which they help maintain and modulate neuronal metabolism. However, recent attention has focused on the ability of astrocytes to propagate long-range calcium signals and actively communicate with each other, as well as with neurons and vascular cells. Synaptic activity in neurons triggers an increase in the intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i) of neighboring astrocytes, stimulating the release of ATP and glutamate. The released ATP stimulates an increase in [Ca2+]i in neighboring astrocytes so that a "calcium wave" is propagated from cell to cell. Released glutamate is cotransported with Na+ into neighboring cells; thus, glutamate uptake leads to an increase in astrocyte intracellular sodium concentration ([Na+]i) that is also propagated from cell to cell. This increase in [Na+]i stimulates an increase in glucose uptake and metabolism that leads to the formation of lactate, which is delivered to nearby--and perhaps distant--neurons as an energy substrate. Thus, long-range intercellular calcium signaling in astrocytes may enable them to spatially coordinate their function in supporting neuronal metabolism.

*Contact information. E-mail, acharles{at}

Citation: A. Charles, Glial Intercellular Waves. Sci. STKE 2005, tr19 (2005).

Calcium signalling during excitation-contraction coupling in mammalian atrial myocytes.
M. D. Bootman, D. R. Higazi, S. Coombes, and H. L. Roderick (2006)
J. Cell Sci. 119, 3915-3925
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