Activity changes in neuron-Astrocyte networks in culture under the effect of norepinephrine

Yasmin Bar El, Sivan Kanner, Ari Barzilai, Yael Hanein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The concerted activity of neuron-glia networks is responsible for the fascinating dynamics of brain functions. Although these networks have been extensively investigated using a variety of experimental (in vivo and in vitro) and theoretical models, the manner by which neuronglia networks interact is not fully understood. In particular, how neuromodulators influence network-level signaling between neurons and astrocytes was poorly addressed. In this work, we investigated global effects of the neuromodulator norepinephrine (NE) on neuronastrocyte network communication in co-cultures of neurons and astrocytes and in isolated astrocyte networks. Electrical stimulation was used to activate the neuron-Astrocyte glutamate-mediated pathway. Our results showed dramatic changes in network activity under applied global perturbations. Under neuromodulation, there was a marked rise in calcium signaling in astrocytes, neuronal spontaneous activity was reduced, and the communication between neuron-Astrocyte networks was perturbed. Moreover, in the presence of NE, we observed two astrocyte behaviors based on their coupling to neurons. There were also morphological changes in astrocytes upon application of NE, suggesting a physical cause underlies the change in signaling. Our results shed light on the role of NE in controlling sleep-wake cycles.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0203761
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018


FundersFunder number
Seventh Framework Programme306707


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