Translational Neuroscience

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 334–344 | Cite as

Homeostatic function of astrocytes: Ca2+ and Na+ signalling

Review Article


The name astroglia unifies many non-excitable neural cells that act as primary homeostatic cells in the nervous system. Neuronal activity triggers multiple homeostatic responses of astroglia that include increase in metabolic activity and synthesis of neuronal preferred energy substrate lactate, clearance of neurotransmitters and buffering of extracellular K+ ions to name but a few. Many (if not all) of astroglial homeostatic responses are controlled by dynamic changes in the cytoplasmic concentration of two cations, Ca2+ and Na+. Intracellular concentration of these ions is tightly controlled by several transporters and can be rapidly affected by the activation of respective fluxes through ionic channels or ion exchangers. Here, we provide a comprehensive review of astroglial Ca2+ and Na+ signalling.


Astrocyte Homeostasis Excitability Ca2+ signalling Na+ signalling 



α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid


cytoplasmic free Ca2+ concentration


intra-ER (or intraluminal) free Ca2+ concentration


central nervous system


Ca2+-release activated Ca2+


endoplasmic reticulum


γ-aminobutyric acid


inositol 1,4,5 trisphosphate (InsP3)-gated Ca2+ channel/receptor


cytoplasmic Na+ concentration


Na+/Ca2+ exchanger


Na+/K+ ATPase


N-methyl D-aspartate


phospholipase C


plasmalemmal Ca2+ ATPase


ryanodine receptor


sarco(endoplasmic) reticulum Ca2+ ATPase


solute carrier


transient receptor potential


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Copyright information

© Versita Warsaw and Springer-Verlag Wien 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neurobiology, Center for Glial Biology in Medicine, Atomic Force Microscopy & Nanotechnology Laboratories, Civitan International Research Center, Evelyn F. McKnight Brain InstituteUniversity of AlabamaBirminghamUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiotechnologyUniversity of RijekaRijekaCroatia
  3. 3.IKERBASQUEBasque Foundation for ScienceBilbaoSpain
  4. 4.Department of NeurosciencesUniversity of the Basque Country UPV/EHULeioaSpain
  5. 5.Faculty of Life SciencesThe University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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