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Trends in Neurosciences [journal]
- Emerging role for astroglial networks in information processing: from synapse to behavior. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Trends Neurosci 2013 May 6.
Astrocytes contribute to neurotransmission through a variety of mechanisms ranging from synapse isolation to active signaling. Astroglial involvement in neurophysiology has been mostly investigated at the single-cell level. However, a unique feature of astrocytes is their high level of intercellular connectivity mediated by connexins, the proteins forming gap junction (GJ) channels. These astroglial GJ circuits enable the rapid intercellular exchange of ions, metabolites, and neuroactive substances. Recent findings have suggested that, despite their extensity, astroglial networks are also selective, preferential as well as plastic, and can regulate synapses, neuronal circuits, and behavior. The present review critically discusses the impact of astroglial networks on normal and pathological neuronal information processing as well as the underlying mechanisms.
- Neurons and circuits for odor processing in the piriform cortex. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Trends Neurosci 2013 May 3.
Increased understanding of the early stages of olfaction has lead to a renewed interest in the higher brain regions responsible for forming unified 'odor images' from the chemical components detected by the nose. The piriform cortex, which is one of the first cortical destinations of olfactory information in mammals, is a primitive paleocortex that is critical for the synthetic perception of odors. Here we review recent work that examines the cellular neurophysiology of the piriform cortex. Exciting new findings have revealed how the neurons and circuits of the piriform cortex process odor information, demonstrating that, despite its superficial simplicity, the piriform cortex is a remarkably subtle and intricate neural circuit.
- Where no synapses go: gatekeepers of circuit remodeling and synaptic strength. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Trends Neurosci 2013 May 1.
Growth inhibitory molecules in the adult mammalian central nervous system (CNS) have been implicated in the blocking of axonal sprouting and regeneration following injury. Prominent CNS regeneration inhibitors include Nogo-A, oligodendrocyte myelin glycoprotein (OMgp), and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs), and a key question concerns their physiological role in the naïve CNS. Emerging evidence suggests novel functions in dendrites and at synapses of glutamatergic neurons. CNS regeneration inhibitors target the neuronal actin cytoskeleton to regulate dendritic spine maturation, long-term synapse stability, and Hebbian forms of synaptic plasticity. This is accomplished in part by antagonizing plasticity-promoting signaling pathways activated by neurotrophic factors. Altered function of CNS regeneration inhibitors is associated with mental illness and loss of long-lasting memory, suggesting unexpected and novel physiological roles for these molecules in brain health.
- Autophagy in axonal and dendritic degeneration. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Trends Neurosci 2013 Apr 29.
Degeneration of axons and dendrites is a common and early pathological feature of many neurodegenerative disorders, and is thought to be regulated by mechanisms distinct from those determining death of the cell body. The unique structures of axons and dendrites (collectively neurites) may cause them to be particularly vulnerable to the accumulation of protein aggregates and damaged organelles. Autophagy is a catabolic mechanism in which cells clear protein aggregates and damaged organelles. Basal autophagy occurs continuously as a housekeeping function, and can be acutely expanded in response to stress or injury. Emerging evidence shows that insufficient or excessive autophagy contributes to neuritic degeneration. Here, we review the recent progress that has begun to reveal the role of autophagy in neurite function and degeneration.
- Metabolic signaling by lactate in the brain. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Trends Neurosci 2013 Apr 29.
High-resolution molecular and imaging techniques are shedding light on the mechanisms and functional significance of the transient rise in tissue lactate that accompanies synaptic activity. Despite high energy needs, neurons have a truncated glycolytic pathway that favors antioxidation over energy production, whereas astrocytes team up with oligodendrocytes to extract glucose from the blood, mobilize glycogen, and release lactate under neuronal command. Lactate energizes neurons but also diffuses beyond the active zone and modifies the activity of neurons and astrocytes in neighboring regions. Involved in a hierarchy of processes from neurovascular coupling to memory formation, lactate has a dual role as metabolic fuel and an intercellular messenger.
- Steady or changing? Long-term monitoring of neuronal population activity. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Trends Neurosci 2013 Apr 19.
Stability and flexibility are both hallmarks of brain function that allow animals to thrive in ever-changing environments. Investigating how a balance between these opposing features is achieved with a dynamic array of cellular and molecular constituents requires long-term tracking of activity from individual neurons. Here, we review in vivo chronic extracellular recording studies and recent long-term two-photon calcium-imaging investigations that address the question of stability and plasticity of neuronal population activity in the mammalian brain. Overall, spiking activity is heterogeneously distributed among neurons in local populations and largely remains stable for individual cells over time. Tuning properties appear more flexible and may be adaptively stabilized, possibly by neuromodulators, to encode reliably and specifically salient stimuli or behaviors.
- Emerging roles of metaplasticity in behaviour and disease. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Trends Neurosci 2013 Apr 17.
Since its initial conceptualisation, metaplasticity has come to encompass a wide variety of phenomena and mechanisms, creating the important challenge of understanding how they contribute to network function and behaviour. Here, we present a framework for considering potential roles of metaplasticity across three domains of function. First, metaplasticity appears ideally placed to prepare for subsequent learning by either enhancing learning ability generally or by preparing neuronal networks to encode specific content. Second, metaplasticity can homeostatically regulate synaptic plasticity, and this likely has important behavioural consequences by stabilising synaptic weights while ensuring the ongoing availability of synaptic plasticity. Finally, we discuss emerging evidence that metaplasticity mechanisms may play a role in disease causally and may serve as a potential therapeutic target.
- How to erase memory traces of pain and fear. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Trends Neurosci 2013 Apr 17.
Pain and fear are both aversive experiences that strongly impact on behaviour and well being. They are considered protective when they lead to meaningful, adaptive behaviour such as the avoidance of situations that are potentially dangerous to the integrity of tissue (pain) or the individual (fear). Pain and fear may, however, become maladaptive if expressed under inappropriate conditions or at excessive intensities for extended durations. Currently emerging concepts of maladaptive pain and fear suggest that basic neuronal mechanisms of memory formation are relevant for the development of pathological forms of pain and fear. Thus, the processes of erasing memory traces of pain and fear may constitute promising targets for future therapies.
- Development of human embryonic stem cell therapies for age-related macular degeneration. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Trends Neurosci 2013 Apr 16.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults and ultimately leads to the death of photoreceptor cells in the macular area of the neural retina. Currently, treatments are only available for patients with the wet form of AMD. In this review, we describe recent approaches to develop cell-based therapies for the treatment of AMD. Recent research has focused on replacing the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a monolayer of cells vital to photoreceptor cell health. We discuss the various methods used to differentiate and purify RPE from human embryonic stem cells (HESC), and describe the surgical approaches being used to transplant these cells in existing and forthcoming clinical trials.
- Why size matters - balancing mitochondrial dynamics in Alzheimer's disease. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Trends Neurosci 2013 Apr 11.
Once perceived as solitary structures, mitochondria are now recognized as highly dynamic, interconnected organelles. The tight control of their fusion and fission, a process termed 'mitochondrial dynamics', is crucial for neurons, given their unique architecture and special energy and calcium-buffering requirements at the synapse. Interestingly, in Alzheimer's disease (AD), a condition initiated at the synapse, mitochondrial dynamics are severely impaired. Of the two proteins implicated in AD pathogenesis, amyloid-β (Aβ) and TAU, only the impact of Aβ on mitochondrial dynamics has been studied in detail. We highlight recent findings that TAU exerts a determinative effect in the regulation of mitochondrial dynamics, and therefore neuronal function. In this process, the GTPase DRP1 has emerged as a key target of both Aβ and TAU.