Behaviorally consequential astrocytic regulation of neural circuits

Neuron. 2020 Dec 31;S0896-6273(20)30967-3. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2020.12.008. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Astrocytes are a large and diverse population of morphologically complex cells that exist throughout nervous systems of multiple species. Progress over the last two decades has shown that astrocytes mediate developmental, physiological, and pathological processes. However, a long-standing open question is how astrocytes regulate neural circuits in ways that are behaviorally consequential. In this regard, we summarize recent studies using Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster, Danio rerio, and Mus musculus. The data reveal diverse astrocyte mechanisms operating in seconds or much longer timescales within neural circuits and shaping multiple behavioral outputs. We also refer to human diseases that have a known primary astrocytic basis. We suggest that including astrocytes in mechanistic, theoretical, and computational studies of neural circuits provides new perspectives to understand behavior, its regulation, and its disease-related manifestations.

Keywords: Caenorhabditis elegans; Danio rerio; Drosophila melanogaster; Mus musculus; astrocyte; behavior; genetic disorders; glia; microcircuit; neuronal circuit.

Publication types

  • Review