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Review Article

Exp Neurobiol 2016; 25(5): 197-204

Published online October 31, 2016

© The Korean Society for Brain and Neural Sciences

Optogenetic Glia Manipulation: Possibilities and Future Prospects

Woo-Hyun Cho, Ellane Barcelon and Sung Joong Lee*

Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, and Dental Research Institute, School of Dentistry, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea

Correspondence to: *To whom correspondence should be addressed.
TEL: 82-2-880-2309, FAX: 82-2-882-0228
These authors contributed equally to this work.

Received: August 1, 2016; Revised: October 1, 2016; Accepted: October 8, 2016


Our brains are composed of two distinct cell types: neurons and glia. Emerging data from recent investigations show that glial cells, especially astrocytes and microglia, are able to regulate synaptic transmission and thus brain information processing. This suggests that, not only neuronal activity, but communication between neurons and glia also plays a key role in brain function. Thus, it is currently well known that the physiology and pathophysiology of brain function can only be completely understood by considering the interplay between neurons and glia. However, it has not yet been possible to dissect glial cell type-specific roles in higher brain functions in vivo. Meanwhile, the recent development of optogenetics techniques has allowed investigators to manipulate neural activity with unprecedented temporal and spatial precision. Recently, a series of studies suggested the possibility of applying this cutting-edge technique to manipulate glial cell activity. This review briefly discusses the feasibility of optogenetic glia manipulation, which may provide a technical innovation in elucidating the in vivo role of glial cells in complex higher brain functions.

Keywords: Optogenetics, Astrocyte, Microglia, Higher brain functions, Synapse