Radially expanding transglial calcium waves in the intact cerebellum
Multicellular glial calcium waves may locally regulate neural activity or brain energetics. Here, we report a diffusion-driven astrocytic signal in the normal, intact brain that spans many astrocytic processes in a confined volume without fully encompassing any one cell. By using 2-photon microscopy in rodent cerebellar cortex labeled with fluorescent indicator dyes or the calcium-sensor protein G-CaMP2, we discovered spontaneous calcium waves that filled approximately ellipsoidal domains of Bergmann glia processes. Waves spread in 3 dimensions at a speed of 4-11 microm/s to a diameter of approximately 50 microm, slowed during expansion, and were reversibly blocked by P2 receptor antagonists. Consistent with the hypothesis that ATP acts as a diffusible trigger of calcium release waves, local ejection of ATP triggered P2 receptor-mediated waves that were refractory to repeated activation. Transglial waves represent a means for purinergic signals to act with local specificity to modulate activity or energetics in local neural circuits.