Astrocytes as brain interoceptors

A V Gourine, S Kasparov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Astrocytes form a vascular-neuronal interface and provide CNS neural networks with essential structural and metabolic support. They embrace all penetrating arterioles and capillaries, enwrap multiple neuronal somata, thousands of individual synapses, and upon activation release gliotransmitters (ATP, glutamate and D-serine) capable of modulating neuronal activity. The aim of this brief report is to review recent data implicating astrocytes in the brain mechanisms responsible for the detection of different sensory modalities and transmitting sensory information to the relevant neural networks controlling vital behaviours. The concept of astrocytes as brain interoceptors is strongly supported by our recent data obtained from studies of the central nervous mechanisms underlying the chemosensory control of breathing. At the level of the medulla oblongata, astrocytes indeed act as functional central respiratory chemoreceptors, sensing changes in the arterial blood and brain levels of /pH and then imparting these changes on the activity of the respiratory network to induce adaptive changes in lung ventilation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411 - 416
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental Physiology
Volume96
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

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