Mitochondria: new players in homeostatic regulation of firing rate set points

Antonella Ruggiero, Maxim Katsenelson, Inna Slutsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Neural circuit functions are stabilized by homeostatic processes at long timescales in response to changes in behavioral states, experience, and learning. However, it remains unclear which specific physiological variables are being stabilized and which cellular or neural network components compose the homeostatic machinery. At this point, most evidence suggests that the distribution of firing rates among neurons in a neuronal circuit is the key variable that is maintained around a set-point value in a process called ‘firing rate homeostasis.’ Here, we review recent findings that implicate mitochondria as central players in mediating firing rate homeostasis. While mitochondria are known to regulate neuronal variables such as synaptic vesicle release or intracellular calcium concentration, the mitochondrial signaling pathways that are essential for firing rate homeostasis remain largely unknown. We used basic concepts of control theory to build a framework for classifying possible components of the homeostatic machinery that stabilizes firing rate, and we particularly emphasize the potential role of sleep and wakefulness in this homeostatic process. This framework may facilitate the identification of new homeostatic pathways whose malfunctions drive instability of neural circuits in distinct brain disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-618
Number of pages14
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • calcium
  • firing rate
  • homeostasis
  • mitochondria
  • neural circuits
  • set point
  • sleep


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