Astroglial Regulation of Magnocellular Neuroendocrine Cell Activities in the Supraoptic Nucleus

Academic Article


  • Studies on the interactions between astrocytes and neurons in the hypothalamo-neurohypophysial system have significantly facilitated our understanding of the regulation of neural activities. This has been exemplified in the interactions between astrocytes and magnocellular neuroendocrine cells (MNCs) in the supraoptic nucleus (SON), specifically during osmotic stimulation and lactation. In response to changes in neurochemical environment in the SON, astrocytic morphology and functions change significantly, which further modulates MNC activity and the secretion of vasopressin and oxytocin. In osmotic regulation, short-term dehydration or water overload causes transient retraction or expansion of astrocytic processes, which increases or decreases the activity of SON neurons, respectively. Prolonged osmotic stimulation causes adaptive change in astrocytic plasticity in the SON, which allows osmosensory neurons to reserve osmosensitivity at new levels. During lactation, changes in neurochemical environment cause retraction of astrocytic processes around oxytocin neurons, which increases MNC’s ability to secrete oxytocin. During suckling by a baby/pup, astrocytic processes in the mother/dams exhibit alternative retraction and expansion around oxytocin neurons, which mirrors intermittently synchronized activation of oxytocin neurons and the post-excitation inhibition, respectively. The morphological and functional plasticities of astrocytes depend on a series of cellular events involving glial fibrillary acidic protein, aquaporin 4, volume regulated anion channels, transporters and other astrocytic functional molecules. This review further explores mechanisms underlying astroglial regulation of the neuroendocrine neuronal activities in acute processes based on the knowledge from studies on the SON.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Wang SC; Parpura V; Wang YF