Astrocyte-neuron communication: functional consequences

Neurochem Res. 2012 Nov;37(11):2464-73. doi: 10.1007/s11064-012-0807-0. Epub 2012 Jun 6.


Astrocyte-neuron communication has recently been proposed as a potential mechanism participating to synaptic transmission. With the development of this concept and accumulating evidences in favor of a modulation of synaptic transmission by astrocytes, has emerged the term gliotransmission. It refers to the capacity of astrocytes to release various transmitters, such as ATP, glutamate, D-serine, and GABA in the vicinity of synapses. While the cellular mechanisms involved in gliotransmission still need to be better described and, for some, identified, the aim of more and more studies is to determine the role of astrocytes from a functional point of view. This review will summarize the principal studies that have investigated a potential role of astrocytes in the various functions regulated by the brain (sleep, breathing, perception, learning and memory…). This will allow us to highlight the similarities and discrepancies in the signaling pathways involved in the different areas of the brain related to these functions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / cytology*
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Memory
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Pain
  • Respiration
  • Serine / metabolism
  • Sleep
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • Wakefulness
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Glutamic Acid
  • Serine
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Adenosine Triphosphate