International Journal of Molecular Sciences (Mar 2021)

Neuromodulation of Astrocytic K<sup>+</sup> Clearance

  • Alba Bellot-Saez,
  • Rebecca Stevenson,
  • Orsolya Kékesi,
  • Evgeniia Samokhina,
  • Yuval Ben-Abu,
  • John W. Morley,
  • Yossi Buskila

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22, no. 5
p. 2520


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Potassium homeostasis is fundamental for brain function. Therefore, effective removal of excessive K+ from the synaptic cleft during neuronal activity is paramount. Astrocytes play a key role in K+ clearance from the extracellular milieu using various mechanisms, including uptake via Kir channels and the Na+-K+ ATPase, and spatial buffering through the astrocytic gap-junction coupled network. Recently we showed that alterations in the concentrations of extracellular potassium ([K+]o) or impairments of the astrocytic clearance mechanism affect the resonance and oscillatory behavior of both the individual and networks of neurons. These results indicate that astrocytes have the potential to modulate neuronal network activity, however, the cellular effectors that may affect the astrocytic K+ clearance process are still unknown. In this study, we have investigated the impact of neuromodulators, which are known to mediate changes in network oscillatory behavior, on the astrocytic clearance process. Our results suggest that while some neuromodulators (5-HT; NA) might affect astrocytic spatial buffering via gap-junctions, others (DA; Histamine) primarily affect the uptake mechanism via Kir channels. These results suggest that neuromodulators can affect network oscillatory activity through parallel activation of both neurons and astrocytes, establishing a synergistic mechanism to maximize the synchronous network activity.