Lab coats

Christiane Nolte

Crosstalk between glia cells and neurons

cnolte@mdc-berlin.de

Research in the past years substantially changed our view about the passive role of glial cells in the nervous system. All major types of glial cells are intimately associated with neurons and receive physiologic input from neurons. Neurotransmitter receptors expressed by glial cells play an important role in this crosstalk, and depending on the brain structure and the neuronal partner, glial cells have different means to sense neuronal activity and “talk back” to neurons. By their close interaction with axons and synaptic structures, glial cells are also instrumental for metabolic support and fuel neuronal activity. Glial cells form gap junction coupled networks, and coupling among glial cells plays an important role for brain homeostasis, brain communication and energy supply. Depending on the brain area these networks vary in size and cell composition, and are modulated by neuronal activity. Our current research focuses on different aspects of neuron glia interaction and the role of coupled glial networks in the healthy brain. Transgenic mouse models with fluorescent glial and neuronal cell types allow us to study the interaction in combined morphological and physiological approaches. The signaling mechanisms central for inter-glial and glia-neuron communication – in particular Ca2+ signaling and electrical signaling are in the focus of our research. Methods involved in my projects comprise cell biology, physiology, dye-filling studies to characterize coupled networks of glial cells and different experimental models. I have a strong expertise in immunohistochemical methods, microscopy and image analysis tools.