In the last decades, astrocytes have emerged as important regulatory cells actively involved in brain function by exchanging signaling with neurons. The endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling is widely present in many brain areas, being crucially involved in multiple brain functions and animal behaviors. The present review presents and discusses current evidence demonstrating that astrocytes sense eCBs released during neuronal activity and subsequently release gliotransmitters that regulate synaptic transmission and plasticity. The eCB signaling to astrocytes and the synaptic regulation mediated by astrocytes activated by eCBs are complex phenomena that exhibit exquisite spatial and temporal properties, a wide variety of downstream signaling mechanisms, and a large diversity of functional synaptic outcomes. Studies investigating this topic have revealed novel regulatory processes of synaptic function, like the lateral regulation of synaptic transmission and the active involvement of astrocytes in the spike-timing dependent plasticity, originally thought to be exclusively mediated by the coincident activity of pre- and postsynaptic neurons, following Hebbian rules for associative learning. Finally, the critical influence of astrocyte-mediated eCB signaling on animal behavior is also discussed.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by grants from National Institutes of Health (NIH-MH R01MH119355; NIH-NINDS R01NS097312; and NIH-NIDA R01DA048822) and Department of Defense (W911NF2110328) to Alfonso Araque.
This work was supported by grants from National Institutes of Health (NIH‐MH R01MH119355; NIH‐NINDS R01NS097312; and NIH‐NIDA R01DA048822) and Department of Defense (W911NF2110328) to Alfonso Araque.
© 2022 The Authors. GLIA published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.
- synaptic plasticity