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Neuron. 2017 Nov 1;96(3):697-708. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.09.056.

Cell Biology of Astrocyte-Synapse Interactions.

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Hearst Foundation Development Chair, Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, 10010 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Cell Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA; Department of Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA; Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA. Electronic address:


Astrocytes, the most abundant glial cells in the mammalian brain, are critical regulators of brain development and physiology through dynamic and often bidirectional interactions with neuronal synapses. Despite the clear importance of astrocytes for the establishment and maintenance of proper synaptic connectivity, our understanding of their role in brain function is still in its infancy. We propose that this is at least in part due to large gaps in our knowledge of the cell biology of astrocytes and the mechanisms they use to interact with synapses. In this review, we summarize some of the seminal findings that yield important insight into the cellular and molecular basis of astrocyte-neuron communication, focusing on the role of astrocytes in the development and remodeling of synapses. Furthermore, we pose some pressing questions that need to be addressed to advance our mechanistic understanding of the role of astrocytes in regulating synaptic development.


astrocyte; glia; synapse

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