Astrocyte Ca2+-evoked ATP release regulates myelinated axon excitability and conduction speed


In the brain’s gray matter, astrocytes regulate synapse properties, but their role is unclear for the white matter, where myelinated axons rapidly transmit information between gray matter areas. We found that in rodents, neuronal activity raised the intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i) in astrocyte processes located near action potential–generating sites in the axon initial segment (AIS) and nodes of Ranvier of myelinated axons. This released adenosine triphosphate, which was converted extracellularly to adenosine and thus, through A2a receptors, activated HCN2-containing cation channels that regulate two aspects of myelinated axon function: excitability of the AIS and speed of action potential propagation. Variations in astrocyte-derived adenosine level between wake and sleep states or during energy deprivation could thus control white matter information flow and neural circuit function.

Journal details

Journal Science
Volume 374
Issue number 6565
Pages eabh2858
Available online
Publication date