Animation. Astrocyte Calcium, Sodium, and Metabolic Waves

Andrew Charles1*

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


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

Animation. This animation depicts astrocyte Ca2+, Na+, and metabolic waves. Synaptic activity in neurons triggers an increase in [Ca2+]i in neighboring astrocytes, which is propagated from cell to cell through the release of ATP. The increase in astrocyte [Ca2+]i evokes glutamate release and the cotransport of glutamate and Na+ causes an increase in [Na+]i that is also propagated from cell to cell. The increase in [Na+]i stimulates an increase in glucose uptake and metabolism that leads to the formation of lactate, which is delivered to neurons as an energy substrate. Astrocytes also communicate back to neurons through glutamate and ATP release.

Once you have clicked the screen to start the animation, you can advance through the animation or replay a frame by clicking the green arrowheads in the lower right corner. This animation was created by Cameron Slayden, under the scientific oversight of Andrew Charles.


Technical Details

Format: Shockwave Flash Object (swf file)

Size: 103 kb

Requirements: This animation will play with Macromedia Flash 5 ( or higher.


Citation: A. Charles, Reaching out beyond the synapse-glial intercellular waves coordinate metabolism. Sci. STKE 2005, pe6 (2005).