Astrocytes in mice central amygdala mediates oxytocin-dependent behavioral adaptation

Alexandre Charlet

USIAS – Institut d’études avancées de l’université de Strasbourg


Our daily life is a succession of cognitive actions influenced by our emotions. Emotions, often referred to as feelings, are necessary to maintain a balance throughout the life of an individual, if not his survival: love, anger, pain and fear are the most common examples. While neuronal networks sustaining emotions are well studied, a tremendous question persists: how does our brain cellular networks supports the enduring effects of emotions?

Considerable evidence support a role for neuropeptides in the control of emotions in mammals. Oxytocin, a nonapeptide mainly synthesized in the hypothalamus, recently became a centre of attention for the regulation of affective behaviours. Particularly, oxytocin-induced fear and anxiety regulations take place within the amygdala, a key nucleus in processing of emotions in both physiological and pathological conditions. Despite these advances, we still lack evidence on how neuropeptidergic systems support the plasticity of emotions processing throughout a lifetime. Interestingly, alterations in glial cells might be linked to emotional impairments and adaptation, particularly within the amygdala brain region. While major studies demonstrated over the last years a role for astrocytes in functional cellular networks modulation, illustrated in memory and anxiety processing, the contribution of astrocytes in the neuromodulatory effects of a neuropeptide has rarely been explored. We recently demonstrated that a subpopulation of the central amygdala astrocytes express the G-protein coupled oxytocin receptor, and thus that oxytocin can tune astro-neuronal networks activity to control amygdala-related behaviour.

This work paves the way to our ongoing projects, for which I hypothesize that astrocytes and neurons fulfil synergistic functions achieved at differential time points to support behavioral adaptation.


Invited by Françoise Muscatelli

Monday September 9th at 11 am – Inmed conference room

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