The tripartite synapse and sleep/wake cycles
1 Tufts University School of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, Boston, United States
Abstract text :
Although astrocytes can modulate neurons through a variety of mechanisms the ultimate influence of this glial pathway on network function and behavior has been difficult to determine. Using astrocyte specific molecular genetics we have identified the important role of astrocyte-derived adenosine in the modulation of pre and postsynaptic terminals through actions mediated at the tripartite synapse. Through a combination of behavioral and in vivo electrophysiological investigations we have demonstrated the importance of astrocytes in modulating slow oscillations and slow wave sleep.
Because astrocytes are tightly linked with sleep/wake cycles and because sleep perturbations are co-morbid with numerous brain disorders we have recently turned our attention to brain disorders in which sleep perturbations may contribute. From these studies we have been able to identify that targeting the astrocyte has the potential for therapeutic opportunities in indications including depression, sleep disorders and epilepsy.