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Methods. 1998 Nov;16(3):293-310.

Functional studies in cultured astrocytes.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.


Studies using primary cultures of astrocytes have made essential contributions to the understanding of astrocytic functions and neuronal-astrocytic interactions. The purposes of this article are to (i) outline principles and methodologies used in the preparation of such cultures and caveats for the interpretation of the observations made; (ii) summarize astrocytic functions in turnover of the amino acid transmitters glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), in energy metabolism and in Na+,K+-ATPase-catalyzed processes and emphasize the degree to which the observations have been confirmed in intact tissue; (iii) describe regulations of astrocytic functions by transmitters and by calcium channel activity; and (iv) indicate suggestions for future functional studies using astrocytes in primary cultures and emphasize that some of the conclusions about neuronal-astrocytic interactions reached on the basis of studies in cultured cells and confirmed in intact tissue may not yet have been completely integrated into general neuroscience knowledge.

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