Sparse short-distance connections enhance calcium wave propagation in a 3D model of astrocyte networks

Jules Lallouette 1, 2 Maurizio De Pittà 2, 3 Eshel Ben Jacob 3, * Hugues Berry 4, 1, 2, *
* Auteur correspondant
2 BEAGLE - Artificial Evolution and Computational Biology
LIRIS - Laboratoire d'InfoRmatique en Image et Systèmes d'information, Inria Grenoble - Rhône-Alpes, LBBE - Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, CarMeN - Laboratoire de recherche en cardiovasculaire, métabolisme, diabétologie et nutrition
Abstract : Traditionally, astrocytes have been considered to couple via gap-junctions into a syncytium with only rudimentary spatial organization. However, this view is challenged by growing experimental evidence that astrocytes organise as a proper gap-junction mediated network with more complex region-dependent properties. On the other hand, the propagation range of intercellular calcium waves (ICW) within astrocyte populations is as well highly variable, depending on the brain region considered. This suggests that the variability of the topology of gap-junction couplings could play a role in the variability of the ICW propagation range. Since this hypothesis is very difficult to investigate with current experimental approaches, we explore it here using a biophysically realistic model of three-dimensional astrocyte networks in which we varied the topology of the astrocyte network, while keeping intracellular properties and spatial cell distribution and density constant. Computer simulations of the model suggest that changing the topology of the network is indeed sufficient to reproduce the distinct ranges of ICW propagation reported experimentally. Unexpectedly, our simulations also predict that sparse connectivity and restriction of gap-junction couplings to short distances should favor propagation while long-distance or dense connectivity should impair it. Altogether, our results provide support to recent experimental findings that point towards a significant functional role of the organization of gap-junction couplings into proper astroglial networks. Dynamic control of this topology by neurons and signaling molecules could thus constitute a new type of regulation of neuron-glia and glia-glia interactions.
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Jules Lallouette, Maurizio De Pittà, Eshel Ben Jacob, Hugues Berry. Sparse short-distance connections enhance calcium wave propagation in a 3D model of astrocyte networks. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, Frontiers, 2014, 8, 45 (18 p.). 〈http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fncom.2014.00045〉. 〈10.3389/fncom.2014.00045〉. 〈hal-00967106〉

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