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:1/22/2016)... 22, 2016 ... of the  "Global Behavioral Biometric Market ... --> http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/4lmf2s/global_behavioral ) has announced ... Biometric Market 2016-2020"  report to their ... Markets ( http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/4lmf2s/global_behavioral ) has announced the ...
(Date:1/21/2016)... January 21, 2016 ... new market research report "Emotion Detection and Recognition Market by ... Tools (Facial Expression, Voice Recognition and Others), Services, ... forecast to 2020", published by MarketsandMarkets, the global ... reach USD 22.65 Billion by 2020, at a ...
(Date:1/20/2016)... Jan. 20, 2016   MedNet Solutions , an ... spectrum of clinical research, is pleased to announce the ... achievements are the result of the company,s laser focus ... eClinical , it,s comprehensive, easy-to-use and highly affordable ... --> Key MedNet growth achievements in 2015 include: ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/8/2016)... active R&D program for the development of future natural products ... unique research and development center in Israel ... Stockton has a variety of products ... is active in more than 35 counties worldwide. ... flagship product Timorex Gold ® is used to ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... ATCC, the premier global biological materials resource ... and life science researchers that are working to address ... CDC website . --> CDC ... a single-stranded RNA virus of the Flaviviridae family, genus ... Chikungunya Viruses. Zika virus is transmitted to humans primarily ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... , ... February 04, 2016 , ... ... development and compliance training, today announced an interactive FDA compliance training ... The RAPS (Regulatory Affairs Professional Society) accredited interactive course on Morf Playbook—now conveniently ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... Beike Biotechnology, the Shenzhen ... ceremony in late 2015 to mark their successful combined ... --> --> The ... Cell Therapy" was hosted by the Shenzhen Cell Bank ... of Beike Biotechnology Co., Ltd. Shenzhen,s ...
Breaking Biology Technology: