Calcium waves in astrocytes-filling in the gaps

Neuron. 1992 Jun;8(6):1101-8. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(92)90131-v.


Stimulus-evoked cellular responses are sometimes organized in the form of propagating waves of cytoplasmic Ca2+ increase. Ca2+ waves can be elicited in cultured astrocytes by the neurotransmitter glutamate; however, the propagation mechanism is unknown. Here, qualitative and quantitative features of propagation suggest that astrocytic Ca2+ waves are mediated by an intracellular signal that crosses intercellular junctions. The role of gap junctions in cell-cell Ca2+ wave propagation was specifically tested. Functional gap junctions were demonstrated using a noninvasive fluorescence recovery method and the gap junction blockers halothane and octanol. Gap junction closure prevented intracellular waves from propagating between cells without affecting the velocity of the intracellular wave itself. The pivotal role played by the gap junction creates the potential for dynamic changes in glial connectivity and long-range glial signaling.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cell Communication
  • Glutamates / pharmacology
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Intercellular Junctions / physiology
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Glutamates
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Calcium