by Tom Salt , 02 June 2017.
Astrocytes are a type of cell in the brain that possess many of the same signalling molecules as neurons - the brain cells that are thought to be responsible for information processing. However, the role of astrocytes in information processing, if any, is unknown. A multi-disciplinary collaboration of several research groups including Neurexpert scientists, employing various electrophysiological and imaging methods, reports the first evidence that astrocytes modulate or gate neuronal sensory inhibition in the thalamus.
Furthermore, this mechanism critically involves activation of a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) of the metabotropic glutamate receptor family. Using pharmacological methods, the work demonstrates that it is specifically the mGlu2 receptor subtype which contributes to this activity. Gating of thalamo-cortical information flow via astrocyte activation represents a novel sensory processing mechanism. As this thalamo-cortical circuitry is important in discriminative processes, this demonstrates the importance of astrocytes and metabotropic glutamate receptors in synaptic mechanisms underlying attention and cognition and may provide a lead into novel therapies for attention and cognitive disorders.
One of the specialities of Neurexpert is to use electrophysiological methods to probe the action of GPCRs on neuronal circuitry. Using these approaches we investigate the effect novel modulators have on neuronal function of relevance to development of treatments of neurological and psychiatric disorders
Publshed examples can be seen in the these papers:
For further information on the services offered by Neurexpert, please visit our main website here, for futher information and contact details.
To Read the full paper describing the modulation of sensory processing by astrocytes, accepted for publication in Neuropharmacology, click here .
The Blog was written by Tom Salt, Chief Scientific Officer at Neurexpert. To learn more about Tom and Neurexpert, please click here.
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