An astrocyte-dependent mechanism for neuronal rhythmogenesis
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofNature neuroscience ; vol. 18, no. 6, pp. 844-854.
Communication between neurons rests on their capacity to change their firing pattern to encode different messages. For several vital functions, such as respiration and mastication, neurons need to generate a rhythmic firing pattern. Here we show in the rat trigeminal sensori-motor circuit for mastication that this ability depends on regulation of the extracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]e) by astrocytes. In this circuit, astrocytes respond to sensory stimuli that induce neuronal rhythmic activity, and their blockade with a Ca2+ chelator prevents neurons from generating a rhythmic bursting pattern. This ability is restored by adding S100b, an astrocytic Ca2+-binding protein, to the extracellular space, while application of an anti-S100b antibody prevents generation of rhythmic activity. These results indicate that astrocytes regulate a fundamental neuronal property: the capacity to change firing pattern. These findings may have broad implications for many other neural networks whose functions depend on the generation of rhythmic activity.