Hirase Lab: Division of Neuron-Glia Circuitry

Research Overview

The mammalian brain consists of neurons, glia, and the vasculature. Among glial cells, astrocytes provide the maintenance of extracellular space and metabolic support to neurons. In addition to the supportive roles of astrocytes, it has been hypothesized that astrocytes actively participate in neural information processing by interacting with neuronal synapses. Although the cellular and subcellular physiology of neurons and glia has been studied in detail using in vitro preparations, the dynamics of neuron-glia networks remain largely unexplored in in vivo conditions. The overall goal of this laboratory is to investigate neuronal and glial microcircuitry in the neocortex and hippocampus in behaving mice in health and during the development of brain diseases.

See all Hirase Lab Publications.

Major Lines of Investigation

Glial cells express G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) for mood-related neuromodulators, such as noradrenaline and acetylcholine; however, the impact of glial GPCR activation on brain functions remains to be investigated. One of the long-term goals of my laboratory is to understand the spatio-temporal dynamics of various glial GPCR signaling.  Read more about neuromodulator-driven astrocytic signaling

Astrocytes interface both synapses and blood vessels, thus they are in the ideal position to mediate energy supply from the vasculature to neurons. The astrocyte-neuron lactate shuttle hypothesis has been proposed to outline a scheme in which blood-supplied glucose is converted to lactate in astrocytes and shuttled to neurons.  Read more about neuron-glia metabolic coupling

It is well established that exposure to an enriched environment alleviates both memory and emotional disturbances. We have we investigated hippocampal local field potential (LFP) patterns in rats and mice raised in an enriched environment (ENR) or an impoverished, isolated (ISO) environment. Read more about experience-dependent changes of neuron-glia circuitry