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, 369 (1654), 20130609

GABAergic Interneuron to Astrocyte Signalling: A Neglected Form of Cell Communication in the Brain


GABAergic Interneuron to Astrocyte Signalling: A Neglected Form of Cell Communication in the Brain

Gabriele Losi et al. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci.


GABAergic interneurons represent a minority of all cortical neurons and yet they efficiently control neural network activities in all brain areas. In parallel, glial cell astrocytes exert a broad control of brain tissue homeostasis and metabolism, modulate synaptic transmission and contribute to brain information processing in a dynamic interaction with neurons that is finely regulated in time and space. As most studies have focused on glutamatergic neurons and excitatory transmission, our knowledge of functional interactions between GABAergic interneurons and astrocytes is largely defective. Here, we critically discuss the currently available literature that hints at a potential relevance of this specific signalling in brain function. Astrocytes can respond to GABA through different mechanisms that include GABA receptors and transporters. GABA-activated astrocytes can, in turn, modulate local neuronal activity by releasing gliotransmitters including glutamate and ATP. In addition, astrocyte activation by different signals can modulate GABAergic neurotransmission. Full clarification of the reciprocal signalling between different GABAergic interneurons and astrocytes will improve our understanding of brain network complexity and has the potential to unveil novel therapeutic strategies for brain disorders.

Keywords: GABA; astrocytes; interneurons.


Figure 1.
Figure 1.
GABA-activated astrocytes modulate neuronal activity. Summary of the astrocytic response to GABA and the consequent signalling to neurons; dotted arrows refer to contradictory observations or limited brain regions (see §§1 and 2). Glut, glutamate; Ado, adenosine; HD, heterosynaptic depression; tHD, transient heterosynaptic depression; IPSCs, inhibitory postsynaptic currents; EPSCs, excitatory postsynaptic currents; GATs, GABA transporters; NCX, Na+ Ca2+ exchanger.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
Astrocytes activated by different signals modulate GABAergic transmission. Summary of the astrocytic modulation of GABAergic transmission in response to different signals (see §3). TRPA1, transient receptor potential A1; GAT3, GABA transporter type 3; EAATs, excitatory amino acid transporters; Best-1, bestrophin-1; SOCs, slow outward currents; PAR1, protease-activated receptor type-1.

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