Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Astrocytes in Alzheimer's

Sci. Signal.  03 Mar 2009:
Vol. 2, Issue 60, pp. ec82
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.260ec82

Recently, multiphoton calcium imaging in the living brain of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) model mice has become a technical possibility. During investigations of calcium signaling in astrocytes in living mice, Kuchibhotla et al. discovered a role for astrocytes in AD. In AD model mice that developed cortical plaques, calcium waves were observed to propagate throughout the network of structurally interconnected astrocytes. These waves were not seen in mice without plaques. The data indicated that a long-range and coordinated signaling mechanism occurs during pathology that might be contributing to cortical dysfunction and memory loss. Thus, while plaques may affect neurons locally, they have a more global effect on the network of astrocytes, hinting to possibilities for therapeutic interventions.

K. V. Kuchibhotla, C. R. Lattarulo, B. T. Hyman, B. J. Bacskai, Synchronous hyperactivity and intercellular calcium waves in astrocytes in Alzheimer mice. Science 323, 1211–1215 (2009). [Abstract] [Full Text]