Heterogeneity and function of hippocampal macroglia

Cell Tissue Res. 2018 Sep;373(3):653-670. doi: 10.1007/s00441-017-2746-1. Epub 2017 Dec 4.


The contribution of glial cells to normal and impaired hippocampal function is increasingly being recognized, although important questions as to the mechanisms that these cells use for their crosstalk with neurons and capillaries are still unanswered or lead to controversy. Astrocytes in the hippocampus are morphologically variable and a single cell contacts with its processes more than 100,000 synapses. They predominantly express inward rectifier K+ channels and transporters serving homeostatic function but may also release gliotransmitters to modify neuronal signaling and brain circulation. Intracellular Ca2+ transients are key events in the interaction of astrocytes with neurons and the vasculature. Hippocampal NG2 glia represent a population of cells with proliferative capacity throughout adulthood. Intriguingly, they receive direct synaptic input from pyramidal neurons and interneurons and express a multitude of ion channels and receptors. Despite in-depth knowledge about the features of these transmembrane proteins, the physiological impact of NG2 glial cells and their synaptic input remain nebulous. Because of the low abundance of oligodendrocytes in the hippocampus, limited information is available about their specific properties. Given the multitude of signaling molecules expressed by the various types of hippocampal glial cells (and because of space constraints), we focus, in this review, on those properties that are considered key for the interaction of the respective cell type with its neighborhood.

Keywords: Astrocyte; Hippocampus; NG2 glia; Neuron-glia interaction; Oligodendrocyte.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / cytology
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Cell Communication
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Interneurons / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuroglia / cytology*
  • Neuroglia / metabolism*
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism
  • Synapses / metabolism