Neurons set the tone of gap junctional communication in astrocytic networks

Neurochem Int. Jul-Aug 2004;45(2-3):265-72. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2003.07.004.


A number of studies have contributed to demonstrate that neurons and astrocytes tightly and actively interact. Indeed, the presence of astrocytes in neuronal cultures increases the number of synapses and their efficiency, and thanks to enzymatic and uptake processes, astrocytes play a role in neuroprotection. A typical feature of astrocytes is that they establish cell-cell communication in vitro, as well as in situ, through intercellular channels forming specialized membrane areas defined as gap junctions. These channels are composed of junctional proteins termed connexins (Cxs): in astrocytes connexin 43 (Cx43) and 30 (Cx30) have been shown to prevail. Several recent works indicate that gap junctional communication (GJC) and/or connexin expression in astrocytes are controlled by neurons. Altogether, these observations lead to the concept that neuronal and astrocytic networks interact through mutual setting of their respective mode of communication and that astrocyte gap junctions represent a target in neuroglial interaction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / physiology*
  • Cell Communication
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Connexin 30
  • Connexin 43 / physiology
  • Connexins / physiology
  • Gap Junctions / physiology*
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Connexin 30
  • Connexin 43
  • Connexins
  • GJB6 protein, human