Mitochondria are increasingly recognized for playing important roles in regulating the evolving metabolic state of mammalian cells. This is particularly true for nerve cells, as dysregulation of mitochondrial dynamics is invariably associated with a number of neuropathies. Accumulating evidence now reveals that changes in mitochondrial dynamics and structure may play equally important roles also in the cell biology of astroglial cells. Astroglial cells display significant heterogeneity in their morphology and specialized functions across different brain regions, however besides fundamental differences they seem to share a surprisingly complex meshwork of mitochondria, which is highly suggestive of tightly regulated mechanisms that contribute to maintain this unique architecture. Here, we summarize recent work performed in astrocytes in situ indicating that this may indeed be the case, with astrocytic mitochondrial networks shown to experience rapid dynamic changes in response to defined external cues. Although the mechanisms underlying this degree of mitochondrial re-shaping are far from being understood, recent data suggest that they may contribute to demarcate astrocyte territories undergoing key signalling and metabolic functions.
Keywords: Astroglial cells; Brain injury; Calcium; Cell metabolism; Mitochondrial dynamics.
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