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J Neurosci. 2011 Feb 16;31(7):2607-14. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5319-10.2011.

Large-scale calcium waves traveling through astrocytic networks in vivo.

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Laboratory of Chemical Pharmacology, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.


Macroscopic changes in cerebral blood flow, such as those captured by functional imaging of the brain, require highly organized, large-scale dynamics of astrocytes, glial cells that interact with both neuronal and cerebrovascular networks. However, astrocyte activity has been studied mainly at the level of individual cells, and information regarding their collective behavior is lacking. In this work, we monitored calcium activity simultaneously from hundreds of mouse hippocampal astrocytes in vivo and found that almost all astrocytes participated en masse in regenerative waves that propagated from cell to cell (referred to here as "glissandi"). Glissandi emerged depending on the neuronal activity and accompanied a reduction in infraslow fluctuations of local field potentials and a decrease in the flow of red blood cells. This novel phenomenon was heretofore overlooked, probably because of the high vulnerability of astrocytes to light damage; glissandi occurred only when observed at much lower laser intensities than previously used.

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