Findings may help elucidate mechanisms of wake-sleep transitions and epileptic seizures
Astrocytes, a non-neuronal cell of the brain, are responsible for coordinating neuronal networks. Courtesy of Olivier Pascual and Philip Haydon, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have demonstrated that star-shaped glial cells in the brain called astrocytes are directly involved in regulating communication between neurons. A central finding of the study is that astrocytes modulate the level of a signaling molecule called adenosine, which is thought to be important in controlling wake-to-sleep transitions and epileptic seizures.
"This finding may cause neuroscientists to radically alter their view of the role of astrocytes as merely supportive to one of actively communicating with and instructing neurons," states senior author Philip G. Haydon, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience. "Astrocytes are not just the kitchen cells of the brain, providing nutritional support, but instead also help the neurons talk to each other." Haydon and colleagues published their results in last weeks issue of Science.
Karen Kreeger | EurekAlert!
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