Astrocytes are cells in the central nervous system that support and regulate neurons. Although scientists have studied astrocytes for decades, very little is known about their role in the ventral midbrain, the region that houses dopamine-releasing neurons critical for reward learning and motivated behaviors. Knowing more about how astrocytes act in this region of the brain is important for understanding how dopamine neuron function is altered in addiction.
Scientists at NIDA’s Intramural Research Program have just published a study suggesting that ventral midbrain astrocytes are physiologically distinct from astrocytes in other parts of the brain. These findings provide new insight into how regional astrocyte differences may impact dopamine neuron function and susceptibility to degeneration.
- Xin, Wendy; Schuebel, Kornel E; Jair, Kam-Wing; Cimbro, Raffaello; Biase, Lindsay De M; Goldman, David; Bonci, Antonello. Ventral midbrain astrocytes display unique physiological features and sensitivity to dopamine D2 receptor signaling. Neuropsychopharmacology.