Activity-dependent changes in synaptic transmission occur in a large number of mechanisms known collectively as synaptic plasticity. Synaptic plasticity, the capacity of the connection between neurons to change the number and the strength of synapses has long been considered the only domain of neurons. However, studies over the past two decades have shown that electrically non-excitable astrocytes dynamically modulate neuronal excitability and synaptic plasticity. Astrocytes form tripartite synapses by making extensive contacts with synaptic sites, which serve to regulate the transmission of information at the synapse. Astrocytic release of soluble factors that can increase synapse number, provide synaptic insulation restricting the spread of neurotransmitter to neighbouring synapses, and release gliotransmitters, that can directly influence synaptic transmission.
Astrocytic membranes express several cation and anion channels that help regulate ions, which are responsible for resting membrane potential, resting conductance and intracellular signaling within astrocytes. Several studies have shown that astrocytic ion channels release various gliotransmitters as well as ions, thereby directly interacting with neighbouring neurons. Although accumulated lines of evidence demonstrate that astrocytes regulate synaptic transmission and play a role in the formation of new memories, short- and long-term synaptic plasticity and synaptic scaling and redistribution, much remains unknown about the physiological information of the regulation of synaptic function by astrocytes. The goal of this Research Topic is to address the novel discoveries on astrocytic ion channel-mediated modulation of synaptic transmission and synaptic plasticity.
In this Research Topic, we encourage manuscript submission dedicated to novel discoveries in astrocytic ion channel-mediated modulation of synaptic transmission and synaptic plasticity using different experimental and theoretical approaches. The scope of this Research Topic is to address questions including but not limited to:
1) The physiological role of channel-mediated release of astrocytic gliotransmitters in synaptic transmission and plasticity
2) The pathological role of channel-mediated release of astrocytic gliotransmitters in neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration
3) Extracellular ionic homeostasis through astrocytic ion channels
4) Imaging studies investigating astrocyte-neuron interactions
5) Identification of novel ion channels in astrocytes
6) Structural and functional studies of astrocytic ion channels and transporters
7) The role of astrocyte-neuron interaction in COVID-19-mediated pathology
We welcome the submission of any original research articles, reviews, and commentaries.
Keywords: astrocyte, ion channel, synaptic transmission, synaptic plasticity
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.