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:3/15/2016)... York , March 15, 2016 ... market report published by Transparency Market Research "Digital Door Lock ... and Forecast 2015 - 2023," the global digital door lock ... 731.9 Mn in 2014 and is forecast to grow at ... Growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the ...
(Date:3/11/2016)... http://www.apimages.com ) - --> http://www.apimages.com ) - ... ( http://www.apimages.com ) - Germany . The ... refugee identity cards. DERMALOG will be unveiling this device, and a ... next week.   --> Germany . ... new refugee identity cards. DERMALOG will be unveiling this device, and ...
(Date:3/9/2016)... YORK , March 9, 2016 This ... and future states of the RNA Sequencing (RNA Seq) ... segments such as instruments, tools and reagents, data analysis, ... Analyze various segments of the RNA-Sequencing market such as ... services Identify the main factors affecting each segment and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/23/2016)... ... , ... The need for blood donations in South Texas and across the nation is growing. ... Tissue Center, blood donations are on the decline. In fact, donations across the country are ... in South Texas in the last four years alone. , There is no substitute for ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... , May 23, 2016 Oxitec CEO ... th at 10:15 a.m. ET before the United States ... genetically engineered mosquitos can play in controlling the spread of ... the Zika virus.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150630/227348 ... mosquito with a self-limiting gene. Trials in Brazil ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... ... 23, 2016 , ... Foresight Institute , a leading ... for the 2015 Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes. , These prestigious prizes, named ... for experiment and the other for theory in nanotechnology. Prof. Markus J. Buehler, ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... ... 20, 2016 , ... Kablooe Design, a leading provider of product design and ... anniversary of the business. “We have worked hard to build long-term relationships,” says President ... privilege and honor of serving their product design and development needs through the years.” ...
Breaking Biology Technology: