The influence of astrocytic leaflet motility on ionic signalling and homeostasis at active synapses

Marinus Toman, John Joseph Wade, Alexei Verkhratsky, Mark Dallas, Angela Bithell, Bronac Flanagan, Jim Harkin, Liam McDaid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Astrocytes display a highly complex, spongiform morphology, with their fine terminal processes (leaflets) exercising dynamic degrees of synaptic coverage, from touching and surrounding the synapse to being retracted from the synaptic region. In this paper, a computational model is used to reveal the effect of the astrocyte-synapse spatial relationship on ionic homeostasis. Specifically, our model predicts that varying degrees of astrocyte leaflet coverage influences concentrations of K+, Na+ and Ca2+, and results show that leaflet motility strongly influences Ca2+ uptake, as well as glutamate and K+ to a lesser extent. Furthermore, this paper highlights that an astrocytic leaflet that is in proximity to the synaptic cleft loses the ability to form a Ca2+ microdomain, whereas when the leaflet is remote from the synaptic cleft, a Ca2+ microdomain can form. This may have implications for Ca2+-dependent leaflet motility.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3050
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date21 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 21 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work acknowledges funding support from Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Astrocyte
  • Biophysical models
  • Cellular neuroscience
  • Cellular signalling networks
  • Dynamical systems
  • Ion channels in the nervous system


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