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ETRABRAIN EU FP7 - Initial Training Network | ER1

Project Co-ordinator:

Prof. Leszek Kaczmarek
Nencki Institute
Warsaw, POLAND


Project Manager:

Ms. Marta Rucinska
Nencki Institute
Warsaw, POLAND


Recruitment Co-ordinator

Prof. Alexander Dityatev
Deutsches Zentrum fur
Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen
Magdeburg, GERMANY


Training Co-ordinator

Prof. Robert Pawlak
University of Exeter Medical School
Exeter, UK

ER1:       Signal exchange between the ECM and astrocytes (lead: UCL, partners: NENCKI, UNEXE, DZNE-2a)

Dr. James Reynolds










Astroglia are the most common type of nonneuronal cell, or glial cell, in the brain. Traditionally thought of as supportive cells for maintaining neuronal function in the brain, recent
investigations have revealed that astroglia actively contribute to information processing in the brain, communicating within astroglial networks through calcium waves, or with neurons and other cells of the brain by the release of chemical gliotransmitters.

Astroglia are highly heterogeneous and exhibit structural and functional plasticity in response to
many physiological and experimental stimulations. It is likely that such functions depend on an active, ongoing communication mechanism between astroglia and the extracellular matrix, a communication avenue that is relatively understudied. Using both lifetime and intensity based calcium imaging techniques, we have successfully measured subcellular calcium activity in astroglia, in both brain slices and within the intact brain, as a measure of ongoing signal integration. We are currently pursuing means of imaging and manipulating various constituents of the extracellular matrix to investigate coordination of this astroglia calcium signaling and ECM activity/structure in vivo , in hope of shedding light on a novel and potentially important mode of signalling in the brain.

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