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J Vis Exp. 2009 Apr 26;(26). pii: 1142. doi: 10.3791/1142.

Measuring near plasma membrane and global intracellular calcium dynamics in astrocytes.

Author information

1
Department of Physiology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA. eshigetomi@mednet.ucla.edu

Abstract

The brain contains glial cells. Astrocytes, a type of glial cell, have long been known to provide a passive supportive role to neurons. However, increasing evidence suggests that astrocytes may also actively participate in brain function through functional interactions with neurons. However, many fundamental aspects of astrocyte biology remain controversial, unclear and/or experimentally unexplored. One important issue is the dynamics of intracellular calcium transients in astrocytes. This is relevant because calcium is well established as an important second messenger and because it has been proposed that astrocyte calcium elevations can trigger the release of transmitters from astrocytes. However, there has not been any detailed or satisfying description of near plasma membrane calcium signaling in astrocytes. Total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy is a powerful tool to analyze physiologically relevant signaling events within about 100 nm of the plasma membrane of live cells. Here, we use TIRF microscopy and describe how to monitor near plasma membrane and global intracellular calcium dynamics almost simultaneously. The further refinement and systematic application of this approach has the potential to inform about the precise details of astrocyte calcium signaling. A detailed understanding of astrocyte calcium dynamics may provide a basis to understand if, how, when and why astrocytes and neurons undergo calcium-dependent functional interactions.

PMID:
19396060
PMCID:
PMC2762904
DOI:
10.3791/1142
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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