Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Glia. 2012 Jul;60(7):1013-23. doi: 10.1002/glia.22288. Epub 2012 Jan 6.

Artifact versus reality--how astrocytes contribute to synaptic events.

Author information

  • 1Division of Glia Disease and Therapeutics, Department of Neurosurgery, Center for Translational Neuromedicine, University of Rochester Medical School, Rochester, NY 14580, USA.


The neuronal doctrine, developed a century ago regards neuronal networks as the sole substrate of higher brain function. Recent advances in glial physiology have promoted an alternative hypothesis, which places information processing in the brain into integrated neuronal-glial networks utilizing both binary (neuronal action potentials) and analogue (diffusional propagation of second messengers/metabolites through gap junctions or transmitters through the interstitial space) signal encoding. It has been proposed that the feed-forward and feed-back communication between these two types of neural cells, which underlies information transfer and processing, is accomplished by the release of neurotransmitters from neuronal terminals as well as from astroglial processes. Understanding of this subject, however, remains incomplete and important questions and controversies require resolution. Here we propose that the primary function of perisynaptic glial processes is to create an "astroglial cradle" that shields the synapse from a multitude of extrasynaptic signaling events and provides for multifaceted support and long-term plasticity of synaptic contacts through variety of mechanisms, which may not necessarily involve the release of "glio" transmitters.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center