Glial Cell Tuning

Science Signaling  24 Jun 2008:
Vol. 1, Issue 25, pp. ec235
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.125ec235

Astrocytes are the major class of non-neuronal cells in the brain and account for close to half of the cells in the mammalian cerebral cortex, yet their function is virtually unknown. Evidence is now accumulating for an active role of astrocytes in brain function. Schummers et al. (see the Perspective by Wolf and Kirchhoff) investigated astroglial calcium responses in the visual cortex of the ferret by two-photon laser-scanning microscopy. Visual cue-induced calcium signals were monitored in neurons and astrocytes simultaneously at high temporal and cellular resolution. The receptive field properties (response kinetics, orientation, and localization) of the astroglial network consistently followed neuronal activity. Simultaneous recordings of hemodynamic signals and calcium responses in neurons and astroglia revealed that astrocytes have a key role in coupling neuronal activity to vascular signals critical for noninvasive brain imaging.

J. Schummers, H. Yu, M. Sur, Tuned responses of astrocytes and their influence on hemodynamic signals in the visual cortex. Science 320, 1638-1643 (2008). [Abstract] [Full Text]

F. Wolf, F. Kirchhoff, Imaging astrocyte activity. Science 320, 1597-1599 (2008). [Summary] [Full Text]