Neuroglial Interactions in Cerebral Physiology and Pathologies
Interactions Neurogliales dans la Physiologie et Pathologies Cérébrales

Principal Investigator: Nathalie Rouach, DR1 Inserm

The goal of our laboratory is to determine whether and how the underexplored astrocytes, which are the very abundant non-neuronal, but yet active cells of the brain, play a direct role in information processing. We particularly explore the molecular modalities and functional outcomes of astrocyte-neuron interactions in physiological and pathological contexts, such as memory or epilepsy, focusing ex vivo or in vivo on neuronal excitability, synaptic transmission, plasticity, synchronization and cognitive functions.

To do so, we use a multidisciplinary approach combining electrophysiology, imaging, behavioral testing, mathematical modeling and molecular tools targeting selectively astrocytes in situ and in vivo in mice and human tissues.

Using this strategy, we performed in the last years mostly fundamental research on role of astrocytes in synaptic transmission, plasticity and network activity in normal and pathological conditions. We uncovered several major astroglial properties regulating physiological and pathological neuronal activities. In particular, we have unraveled many ways Cxs or Pxs, via channel or non-channel functions, control neuronal wiring and activity via regulation of the extracellular matrix, ion homeostasis, gliotransmitter release or astroglial synapse coverage.

Our work thus fuels the emerging concept of neuroglial networks, in which astrocytes actively participate to the formation, activity and plasticity of local neuronal networks.

We are now developing several projects in line with our previous research on the role of neuroglial interactions in neurotransmission and brain plasticity at the synaptic and network levels in normal and pathological conditions. To do so, we have recently set up novel approaches enabling to address the role of neuroglial interactions at both the subcellular and network level in vivo in mice and in human tissues.