Opera Medica et Physiologica

Do Astrocytes Respond To Dopamine ?

Author Affiliations

Alistair Jennings1 Dmitri A. Rusakov 1, 2

1 UCL Institute of Neurology, University College London, Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, U.K.

2 Laboratory of Brain Microcircuits, Institute of Biology and Biomedicine, University of Nizhny Novgorod, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.

Corresponding author: 

Dmitri A. Rusakov (d.rusakov@ucl.ac.uk)


Astrocytes are now recognised as important contributors to synaptic transmission control. Dopamine is a key neuromodulator in the mammalian brain and establishing the potential extent of its actions involving astrocytes is vital to our overall understanding of brain function. Astrocyte membranes can express receptors for dopamine, as well as dopamine transporters, but the full effects of dopamine on astrocytic physiology are still uncertain and its mode of action controversial. Here we overview the developing field of astrocyte-dopamine interaction, focusing on how dopamine affects the pre-eminent astrocytic intracellular signalling messenger – Ca2+ – and the available evidence for astrocyte-mediated effects of dopamine on neurons. We then discuss some of the methodological issues that need to be addressed to help move the field forward.