Tampere University of Technology

TUTCRIS Research Portal

A Computational Model of Interactions Between Neuronal and Astrocytic Networks: The Role of Astrocytes in the Stability of the Neuronal Firing Rate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Article number92
Number of pages19
JournalFrontiers in Computational Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Recent research in neuroscience indicates the importance of tripartite synapses and gliotransmission mediated by astrocytes in neuronal system modulation. Although the astrocyte and neuronal network functions are interrelated, they are fundamentally different in their signaling patterns and, possibly, the time scales at which they operate. However, the exact nature of gliotransmission and the effect of the tripartite synapse function at the network level are currently elusive. In this paper, we propose a computational model of interactions between an astrocyte network and a neuron network, starting from tripartite synapses and spanning to a joint network level. Our model focuses on a two-dimensional setup emulating a mixed in vitro neuron-astrocyte cell culture. The model depicts astrocyte-released gliotransmitters exerting opposing effects on the neurons: increasing the release probability of the presynaptic neuron while hyperpolarizing the post-synaptic one at a longer time scale. We simulated the joint networks with various levels of astrocyte contributions and neuronal activity levels. Our results indicate that astrocytes prolong the burst duration of neurons, while restricting hyperactivity. Thus, in our model, the effect of astrocytes is homeostatic; the firing rate of the network stabilizes to an intermediate level independently of neuronal base activity. Our computational model highlights the plausible roles of astrocytes in interconnected astrocytic and neuronal networks. Our simulations support recent findings in neurons and astrocytes in vivo and in vitro suggesting that astrocytic networks provide a modulatory role in the bursting of the neuronal network.


  • astrocyte, calcium signaling, gliotransmission, network, neuron, simulation

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland