Hugues BERRY           

A tale of two stories: astrocyte regulation of synaptic depression and facilitation.

De Pittą M., Volman V., Berry H., Ben-Jacob E.

PLoS Computational Biology 2011, 7: e1002293.

Faculty Comments for the Faculty of 1000 Cell Biology, by G. Dupont, Free University of Brussels, Belgium.

In recent years, neuron-glia interactions and, more particularly, the possible modulation of short-term plasticity by astrocytes, have become a focus of cellular neurophysiology. Using an innovative computational model capturing the essential features of neuron and astrocyte dynamics, the authors of this study identify the key elements allowing for a switch between facilitation and depression in response to stimulation by repetitive action potentials. These elements are intrinsically associated with astrocytic Ca2+ dynamics and the resulting glutamate release in the extrasynaptic space. This model provides a very useful tool to deeply analyse the complex interactions between astrocytic Ca2+ signalling and neuronal firing activity and thereby improves our understanding of information transfer in the brain.

Genevieve Dupont: Faculty of 1000 Cell Biology, 23 Dec 2011