Gap junctions facilitate direct cytoplasmic communication between neighboring cells, facilitating the transfer of small molecular weight molecules involved in cell signaling and metabolism. Gap junction channels are formed by the joining of two hemichannels from adjacent cells, each composed of six oligomeric protein subunits called connexins. Of paramount importance to CNS homeostasis are astrocyte networks formed by gap junctions, which play a critical role in maintaining the homeostatic regulation of extracellular pH, K+, and glutamate levels. Inflammation is a hallmark of several diseases afflicting the CNS. Within the past several years, the number of publications reporting effects of cytokines and pathogenic stimuli on glial gap junction communication has increased dramatically. The purpose of this review is to discuss recent observations characterizing the consequences of inflammatory stimuli on homocellular gap junction coupling in astrocytes and microglia as well as changes in connexin expression during various CNS inflammatory conditions.
- Connexin 43
- Gap junction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience