Navigation Links
Blame it on the astrocytes
Date:7/11/2014

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil- In the brains of all vertebrates, information is transmitted through synapses, a mechanism that allows an electric or chemical signal to be passed from one brain cell to another. Chemical synapses, which are the most abundant type of synapse, can be either excitatory or inhibitory. Synapse formation is crucial for learning, memory, perception and cognition, and the balance between excitatory and inhibitory synapses critical for brain function. For instance, every time we learn something, the new information is transformed into memory through synaptic plasticity, a process in which synapses are strengthened and become more responsive to different stimuli or environmental cues. Synapses may change their shape or function in a matter of seconds or over an entire lifetime. In humans, a number of disorders are associated with dysfunctional synapses, including autism, epilepsy, substance abuse and depression.

Astrocytes, named for their star-like shape, are ubiquitous brain cells known for regulating excitatory synapse formation through cells. Recent studies have shown that astrocytes also play a role in forming inhibitory synapses, but the key players and underlying mechanisms have remained unknown until now.

A new study just published in the journal Glia and available online on July 11th, details the newly discovered mechanism by which astrocytes are involved in inhibitory synapse formation and presents strong evidence that Transforming Growth Factor Beta 1 (TGF β1), a protein produced by many cell types (including astrocytes) is a key player in this process. The team led by Flvia Gomes of the Rio de Janeiro Institute of Biomedical Sciences at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro investigated the process in both mouse and human tissues, first in test tubes, then in living brain cells.

Previous evidence has shown that TGF β1, a molecule associated with essential functions in nervous system development and repair, modulates other components responsible for normal brain function. In this study, the authors were able to show that TGF β1 triggers N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDA), a molecule controlling memory formation and maintenance through synaptic plasticity. In the study, the group also shows that TGF β1-induction of inhibitory synapses depends on activation of another molecule - Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMK2)-, which works as a mediator for learning and memory. "Our study is the first to associate this complex pathway of molecules, of which TGF β1 seems to be a key player, to astrocytes' ability to modulate inhibitory synapses", says Flvia Gomes.

The idea that the balance between excitatory and inhibitory inputs depends on astrocyte signals gains strong support with this new study and suggests a pivotal role for astrocytes in the development of neurological disorders involving impaired inhibitory synapse transmission. Knowing the players and mechanisms underlying inhibitory synapses may improve our understanding of synaptic plasticity and cognitive processes and may help develop new drugs for treating these diseases.


'/>"/>

Contact: Flávia Gomes
fgomes@icb.ufrj.br
55-219-980-22770
Publicase Comunicao Cientfica
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Sick from stress? Blame your mom… and epigenetics
2. Viruses not to blame for chronic fatigue syndrome after all
3. Scientists conclude high fructose corn syrup should not be blamed for obesity
4. Gene sequencing project finds new mutations to blame for a majority of brain tumor subtype
5. Blame your parents for bunion woes
6. Rainfall to blame for decline in Arctic peregrines
7. Wetlands likely to blame for greenhouse gas increases: Study
8. History to blame for slow crop taming: Study
9. Climate not to blame for the disappearance of large mammals
10. Astrocytes control the generation of new neurons from neural stem cells
11. Who reprograms rat astrocytes into neurons?
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/24/2017)... Mar 24, 2017 Research and Markets has ... Market Analysis & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025" report ... ... at a CAGR of around 15.1% over the next decade to ... report analyzes the market estimates and forecasts for all the given ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... Mar. 23, 2017 Research and Markets has ... Analysis & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025" report to ... ... a CAGR of around 8.8% over the next decade to reach ... analyzes the market estimates and forecasts for all the given segments ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... , March 21, 2017 Optimove ... used by retailers such as 1-800-Flowers and AdoreMe, ... — Product Recommendations and Replenishment. Using Optimove,s machine learning ... personalized product and replenishment recommendations to their customers ... on predictions of customer intent drawn from a ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/26/2017)... ... April 26, 2017 , ... Led ... phase I clinical trials comes to Tampa, San Francisco and Boston in 2017. ... representing FDA regulated organizations such as Pfizer Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals, Advaxis, Inc., Ocular ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... ... April 26, 2017 , ... ... its new Bioflash MailGuardtm mail security screening solution at the National Postal Forum ... MailGuard system provides a fast, highly accurate, easy to use and low cost ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... RESTON, Va. (PRWEB) , ... April 26, 2017 ... ... to make headlines and drive high-level conversations among healthcare industry stakeholders, the discussion ... Healthcare Environment – taking place May 15-18, 2017 in Los Angeles, Calif. Hosted ...
(Date:4/25/2017)... ... April 25, 2017 , ... As part of the Stago ... the laboratory testing for DIC in order to illuminate this clinical problem for people ... in hospitalized patients resulting in a high degree of morbidity and mortality. DIC is ...
Breaking Biology Technology: