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Electrophysiological In Vitro Study of Long-Range Signal Transmission by Astrocytic Networks.

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Yu, Yi-Lin 
Huang, Botian 
Middya, Sagnik 
Inaoka, Misaki 


Astrocytes are diverse brain cells that form large networks communicating via gap junctions and chemical transmitters. Despite recent advances, the functions of astrocytic networks in information processing in the brain are not fully understood. In culture, brain slices, and in vivo, astrocytes, and neurons grow in tight association, making it challenging to establish whether signals that spread within astrocytic networks communicate with neuronal groups at distant sites, or whether astrocytes solely respond to their local environments. A multi-electrode array (MEA)-based device called AstroMEA is designed to separate neuronal and astrocytic networks, thus allowing to study the transfer of chemical and/or electrical signals transmitted via astrocytic networks capable of changing neuronal electrical behavior. AstroMEA demonstrates that cortical astrocytic networks can induce a significant upregulation in the firing frequency of neurons in response to a theta-burst charge-balanced biphasic current stimulation (5 pulses of 100 Hz × 10 with 200 ms intervals, 2 s total duration) of a separate neuronal-astrocytic group in the absence of direct neuronal contact. This result corroborates the view of astrocytic networks as a parallel mechanism of signal transmission in the brain that is separate from the neuronal connectome. Translationally, it highlights the importance of astrocytic network protection as a treatment target.



astrocyte, calcium, electrophysiology, gap junction, syncytium

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Adv Sci (Weinh)

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Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust (ACT) (Minute 38/19 B3)
Ferblanc Foundation (Unknown)
Rosetrees Trust (Seedcorn2020\100084)
Stoneygate Trust (Seedcorn2020\100084)
Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust (ACT) (900287, Minute 58/20A)
Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust (ACT) (900288, Minute 58/20B)
European Research Council (337969)
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) Marie Sk?odowska-Curie actions (956325)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/S009000/1)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L015889/1)
Multiple Sclerosis Society (100)
Royall Scholarship; Wellcome Trust Junior Interdisciplinary Fellowship; University of Cambridge Borysiewicz Interdisciplinary Fellowship program; Yoshida Scholarship Foundation; KDDI Foundation; Shigeta Educational Foundation; NIHR BRC Centre; NIHR Clinician Scientist Award; Wellcome Trust DCF "PK/PD and ADME characterization of a novel formulation for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease"