To understand further how oligodendrocytes regulate brain function, the mechanism of communication between oligodendrocytes and other cell types needs to be explored. An important mode of communication between various cell types in the nervous system involves gap junctions. Astroglial cells are extensively connected through gap junctions forming the glial syncytium. Although the presence of gap junctions between oligodendrocytes and astrocytes have been well documented, evidence for gap junction-mediated calcium transfer between these two glial populations is still missing. To measure functional coupling between astrocytes and oligodendrocytes and to test whether this coupling is mediated by gap junctions we used laser photostimulation and monitored Ca(2+) propagation in cultures from transgenic animals in which oligodendrocytes express enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP). We show that waves of Ca(2+) spread from astrocytes to oligodendrocytes and that these waves are blocked by the broad-spectrum gap junction blocker carbenoxolone, but not the neuron-specific gap junction blocker quinine. We also show that the spread of Ca(2+) waves between astrocytes and oligodendrocytes is bi-directional. Thus, increase of Ca(2+) concentration in astrocytes triggered by surrounding neuronal activity may feed back onto different neuronal populations through oligodendrocytes.
Copyright 2010 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.