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J Neural Transm. 2005 Jan;112(1):121-5. Epub 2004 Mar 19.

Roles for gliotransmission in the nervous system.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Astrocytes were long referred to as passive cells in the central nervous system (CNS). However, the application of fluorescent Ca2+ indicators revealed their "Ca2+ excitability" in response to a variety of stimuli. Since then, evidence showing that astrocytes release chemical transmitters and can modulate synapses has led to a new integrative view of the astrocyte. While it is inarguable that astrocytes play essential roles in nervous system function, and that gliotransmission modulates synapses, a significant challenge lies in developing the appropriate experimental strategy to allow unequivocal identification of roles for gliotransmission in nervous system function.

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