A New Form of AstrocyteNeuron Communication Has Been Identified

A New Form of AstrocyteNeuron Communication Has Been Identified ...

Researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine have discovered a previously unknown function performed by a type of cell that covers around half of all cells in the brain.

These findings suggest that a discovery of astrocytes'' new function in mice has paved a new path for neuroscience research, which might one day lead to treatment for many maladies, from epilepsy to Alzheimers to traumatic brain injury.

It comes down to how astrocytes interact with neurons, which are the fundamental organs of the brain and nervous system that receive input from the outside world. Through a complex set of electrical and chemical signals, neurons provide information between different areas of the brain and between the brain and the rest of the nervous system.

astronomics are guiding the growth of axons, the long, thin projection of a neuron that conducts electrical impulses. They also control neurotransmitters, chemicals that facilitate the transmission of electrical signals throughout the brain and nervous system. Moreover, astrocytes strengthen the blood-brain barrier and respond to injury.

Despite their appearance, they did not appear to be electrically active as the all-important neurons until today.

According to Chris Dulla, an associate professor of neuroscience at the School of Medicine and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and a coauthor on a paper todaybyNature Neuroscience. We have discovered a new way that two of the most important cells in the brain talk to each other. Because there is so much uncertainty about how the brain works, discovering new fundamental components is crucial to developing novel treatments for neurological diseases."

Other authors include Saptarnab Naskar, Mary Sommer, Elliot Kim, and Philip G. Haydon from Tufts University School of Medicine, Jacqueline P. Garcia from theCell, Molecular and Developmental Biology program at TuftsGraduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and researchers from other institutions.

The discovery of new fundamental processes that control brain function is crucial to developing novel therapies for neurological disorders, according to the discovery of a new way that two of the most important cells in the brain talk to each other.

Chris Dulla

Professor of Neuroscience, School of Medicine, and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, is an Associate Professor.

The team used a new technology to develop a technique that allows them to perceive and study the electrical properties of brain cell interactions, which could not be observed previously.

"With these new technologies, we''ve essentially discovered completely new parts of biology," says Armbruster, a research assistant professor at the School of Medicine. As better tools come along, new fluorescent sensors are constantly being developedwe''ll gain an understanding of things we never touched before.

According to Dulla, the new technology captures electrical activity with light. Neurons are quite electrically active, and the new technology allows us to see that astrocytes are equally electrically active.

Dulla refers to astrocytes as ensuring everything is copacetic in the brain, and if something goes wrong, they detect it, try to respond, and then try to protect it from insult. What we want to do next is determine how astrocytes affect when insults occur.

astrocytes regulate neurotransmitters, thereby maintaining neurons vitality and activeness. However, a new study reveals that neurons also release potassium ions, which alter the electrical activity of the astrocyte and how it controls neurotransmitters.

So the neuron is controlling what the astrocyte is doing, and they are communicating back and forth. Neurons and astrocytes talk with each other in a way he hasn''t known previously.

The Impact on Future Research

Several questions arise as to how astrocyte-neuron interactions work in brain pathology and in learning and memory. It makes us rethink everything astrocytes do, and how the fact that astrocytes are electrically active may be influencing a wide range of neurological diseases, according to the author.

astrocytes are unable to control neurotransmitters, as is their primary function, according to Dulla. Similar problems involve traumatic brain injury and epilepsy. For years, scientists believe the problem is mediated by a protein being absent or a mutation that causes a protein to fail.

According to Armbruster, a build-up of extracellular potassium in the brain has been suggested to help with epilepsy and migraine pathologies. This new study is enabling us to better understand how astrocytes prevent this buildup and assist in maintaining a balanced excitation.

Researchers are now looking into existing medicines to see if they can manipulate the neuron-astrocyte interactions. Can we one day help people learn faster or better? Can we repair a brain injury when it occurs? Dulla replies.

The new technology used to make this discovery not only opens up new ways to think about astrocyte activity, but also provides new approaches for imaging activity through the brain. Before, there was no way to imagine potassium activity in the brain, for example, or investigate how potassium is involved in sleep, metabolism, or injury, and infection in the brain.

he says that we are distributing these tools to other labs so they may use the same assays and techniques to examine the questions they are interested in. Scientists are getting the tools to deal with headache, breathing, developmental disorders, and a wide range of varying neurological diseases.

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