About this Research Topic
Accumulated data over the past decade shows that long-neglected glial cells, especially astrocytes, are intricately involved in the activity of neural networks. What remains is the question: How does astrocytic activity – monitored by fluctuations of intracellular Ca2+ concentration – modulate or direct the neuronal activity and the responsiveness of neural networks? And as a specific form of intracellular Ca2+ generating from the endoplasmic reticulum stores, a piece of unique physiological information is still poorly understood.
It has been shown that astrocytes exhibit a high degree of heterogeneity concerning gene expression profiles, morphology, synaptic inputs responsiveness and in their subsequent Ca2+-activity responses. This huge heterogeneity is observed on different levels, e.g. in different brain regions, cortical layers, and different neural circuits. In addition, it has become clear that diffuse extracellular signaling is also very critical for brain functions. Such signals directly affect information transfer and storage in the neuronal networks. Astroglial cells have been highlighted as critical players in the activity modulation of neural networks and the generation of physiological signals by fastening local fluctuations and nonlinear diffusion of intracellular Ca2+-wave.
While both in vivo and ex vivo studies of astrocytic Ca2+ signaling have greatly contributed to our understanding of the specific roles of astrocytes in neural networks, the combination of different experimental and theoretical methods, including computational models, may be key to uncovering the last secrets of astrocytes Ca2+ signaling and neural networks excitability. Therefore, in this Research Topic, we encourage manuscript submissions dedicated to novel discoveries in astrocytic modulations of neuronal network activity using different experimental and theoretical approaches. The following aspects should be considered in the submitted manuscripts:
(i) The application of molecular, cellular approaches, imaging technology, electrophysiology and computational tools to study astrocytic Ca2+-signaling and their potential relation to neuronal Ca2+-signaling or neuronal activity in vitro and in vivo.
(ii) The survey of biophysical conditions and constraints under which such astrocytic intracellular Ca2+ could modulate the excitability of neuronal networks.
(iii) Computational models that can correlate astrocyte morphology with known biophysical mechanisms.
We welcome the submission of original research articles, reviews, and commentaries.
Keywords: Astrocytes, calcium signaling, synaptic activity, brain circuit, computational model in silico
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