Neuron-glia interactions in the brain

Dr. Amit Agarwal
Heidelberg University

Institute for Anatomy and Cell Biology
Im Neuenheimer Feld 307
69120 Heidelberg, Germany

My lab study how neurons and glia cells interact, interconnect and integrate into the neural circuits of brain.


Our brain is the most networked organ in the entire body and consists of two equal populations of broadly classified groups of cells called neurons and glia. A single neuron or a glia (such as astrocyte) makes thousands of synaptic contacts, and thereby exhibit the highest level of cellular connectivity known to us. However, very little is known about the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which neurons and glia interconnect, and how these intricate connections are maintained and fine-tuned over our entire lifespan? However, recent advancements in genetically encoded ions and molecular sensors, optophysiology and in vivo microscopic techniques, single-cell genetics, mouse transgenics, and computational methodologies are changing the landscape of glial biology. The Agarwal laboratory uses these tools and technologies to decipher cellular connectivity and molecular pathways by which neurons and glia interact, interconnect and integrate into the neural networks. The focal aim of the laboratory is to understand the functional significance of these neuron-glia connections in the neural circuits, and their role in cognition, learning, and memory; and study how disturbances in these fine cellular interactions can contribute to various neurological and psychiatric disorders ranging from multiple sclerosis to autism.

Publications after start of funding

Scarpetta V, Bodaleo F, Salio C, Agarwal A, Sassoè-Pognetto M and Patrizi A (2023) Morphological and mitochondrial changes in murine choroid plexus epithelial cells during healthy aging. Fluids Barriers CNS 20:19.

Damo E, Agarwal A and Simonetti M (2023) Activation of β2-Adrenergic Receptors in Microglia Alleviates Neuropathic Hypersensitivity in Mice. Cells 12.

Wang J, Fröhlich H, Torres FB, Silva RL, Poschet G, Agarwal A and Rappold GA (2022) Mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress contribute to cognitive and motor impairment in FOXP1 syndrome. PNAS 119.

Streich L, Boffi JC, Wang L, Alhalaseh K, Barbieri M, Rehm R, Deivasigamani S, Gross CT, Agarwal A and Prevedel R (2021) High-resolution structural and functional deep brain imaging using adaptive optics three-photon microscopy. Nature Methods 18:1253-1258.

Khawaja RR, Agarwal A, Fukaya M, Jeong HK, Gross S, Gonzalez-Fernandez E, Soboloff J, Bergles DE and Kang SH (2021) GluA2 overexpression in oligodendrocyte progenitors promotes postinjury oligodendrocyte regeneration. Cell Reports 35:109147.

Yoo SW, Agarwal A, Smith MD, Khuder SS, Baxi EG, Thomas AG, Rojas C, Moniruzzaman M, Slusher BS, Bergles DE, Calabresi PA and Haughey NJ (2020) Inhibition of neutral sphingomyelinase 2 promotes remyelination. Science Advances 6.

Ye L, Orynbayev M, Zhu X, Lim EY, Dereddi RR, Agarwal A, Bergles DE, Bhat MA and Paukert M (2020) Ethanol abolishes vigilance-dependent astroglia network activation in mice by inhibiting norepinephrine release. Nature Communcations 11:6157.

Semyanov A, Henneberger C and Agarwal A (2020) Making sense of astrocytic calcium signals - from acquisition to interpretation. Nature Review Neuroscience 21:551-564.

Available preprints

Fiore F, Dereddi RR, Alhalaseh K, Coban I, Harb A and Agarwal A (2022) Norepinephrine regulates Ca2+ signals and fate of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells in the cortex. bioRxiv:2022.2008.2031.505555.