Connexins and gap junctions of astrocytes and oligodendrocytes in the CNS

Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2000 Apr;32(1):29-44. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0173(99)00066-1.


This review article summarizes early and recent literature on the structure, distribution and composition of gap junctions between astrocytes and oligodendrocytes, and the differential expression of glial connexins in adult and developing mammalian CNS. In addition to an overview of the topic, discussion is focused on the organization of homologous gap junctional interactions between astrocytes and between oligodendrocytes as well as on heterologous junctional coupling between astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. The homotypic and heterotypic nature of these gap junctions is related to the connexins known to be produced by glial cells in the intact brain and spinal cord. Emphasis is placed on the ultrastructural level of analysis required to attribute gap junction and connexin deployment to particular cell types and subcellular locations. Our aim is to provide a firm basis for consideration of anticipated rapid advances in understanding of structural relationships of gap junctions and connexins within the glial gap junctional syncytium. Conclusions to date suggest that the glial syncytium is more complex than previously appreciated and that glial pathways of junctional communication may not only be determined by the presence of gap junctions, but also by the connexin composition and conductance regulation of junctional channels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / chemistry
  • Astrocytes / physiology*
  • Central Nervous System / cytology*
  • Central Nervous System / growth & development
  • Central Nervous System / physiology
  • Connexins / physiology*
  • Gap Junctions / chemistry
  • Gap Junctions / physiology*
  • Mammals
  • Oligodendroglia / chemistry
  • Oligodendroglia / physiology*


  • Connexins