Cell adhesion and matricellular support by astrocytes of the tripartite synapse

Prog Neurobiol. Jun-Aug 2018;165-167:66-86. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2018.02.002. Epub 2018 Feb 11.


Astrocytes contribute to the formation, function, and plasticity of synapses. Their processes enwrap the neuronal components of the tripartite synapse, and due to this close interaction they are perfectly positioned to modulate neuronal communication. The interaction between astrocytes and synapses is facilitated by cell adhesion molecules and matricellular proteins, which have been implicated in the formation and functioning of tripartite synapses. The importance of such neuron-astrocyte integration at the synapse is underscored by the emerging role of astrocyte dysfunction in synaptic pathologies such as autism and schizophrenia. Here we review astrocyte-expressed cell adhesion molecules and matricellular molecules that play a role in integration of neurons and astrocytes within the tripartite synapse.

Keywords: Astrocytes; Cell Adhesion molecules; Connexins; Extracellular matrix; Neurodevelopment; Neuron-glia interactions; Synapse; Synaptogenesis; Tripartite synapse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Astrocytes / physiology*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Membrane Proteins