Neurotransmitters and integration in neuronal-astroglial networks

Academic Article


  • Two major neural cell types, glia, astrocytes in particular, and neurones can release chemical transmitters that act as soluble signalling compounds for intercellular communication. Exocytosis, a process which depends on an increase in cytosolic Ca2+ levels, represents a common denominator for release of neurotransmitters, stored in secretory vesicles, from these neural cells. While neurones rely predominately on the immediate entry of Ca2+ from the extracellular space to the cytosol in this process, astrocytes support their cytosolic Ca2+ increases by appropriating this ion from the intracellular endoplasmic reticulum store and extracellular space. Additionally, astrocytes can release neurotransmitters using a variety of non-vesicular pathways which are mediated by an assortment of plasmalemmal channels and transporters. Once a neuronal and/or astrocytic neurotransmitter is released into the extracellular space, it can activate plasma membrane neurotransmitter receptors on neural cells, causing autocrine and/or paracrine signalling. Moreover, chemical transmission is essential not only for homocellular, but also for heterocellular bi-directional communication in the brain. Further detailed understanding of chemical transmission will aid our comprehension of the brain (dys)function in heath and disease. ¬© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Verkhratsky A; Rodr√≠guez JJ; Parpura V
  • Start Page

  • 2326
  • End Page

  • 2338
  • Volume

  • 37
  • Issue

  • 11