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Mayo Clin Proc. 2005 Oct;80(10):1326-38.

Neuron-astrocyte interactions: partnership for normal function and disease in the central nervous system.

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Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, 200 First St SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Interactions between neurons and astrocytes are critical for signaling, energy metabolism, extracellular ion homeostasis, volume regulation, and neuroprotection in the central nervous system. Astrocytes face the synapses, send end-foot processes that enwrap the brain capillaries, and form an extensive network interconnected by gap junctions. Astrocytes express several membrane proteins and enzymes that are critical for uptake of glutamate at the synapses, ammonia detoxification, buffering of extracellular K+, and volume regulation. They also participate in detection, propagation, and modulation of excitatory synaptic signals, provide metabolic support to the active neurons, and contribute to functional hyperemia in the active brain tissue. Disturbances of these neuron-astrocyte interactions are likely to play an important role in neurologic disorders including cerebral ischemia, neurodegeneration, migraine, cerebral edema, and hepatic encephalopathy.

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