Alfonso Araque, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Neuroscience

E-MAIL: araque@umn.edu


Research Interests:

Research of my group focuses on the mechanisms and physiological consequences of the astrocyte-neuron signaling, aiming to understand its role in physiological and pathological aspects of synaptic physiology and brain function. Astrocytes, classically considered as supportive cells for neurons without a direct role in brain information processing, are emerging as relevant elements in brain physiology through their ability to regulate neuronal and synaptic activity. We are studying how astrocytes respond to neuronal activity, how they control neuronal activity and synaptic transmission and plasticity, and how they are involved in neural network function.

My previous work provided the first demonstration of regulation of synaptic transmission by astrocytes and the definition of the Tripartite Synapse concept, which represents a novel view of synaptic physiology. According to this concept, astrocytes are integral functional elements of synapses by exchanging information signals with neurons. My recent contributions include: the demonstration that astrocytes display integrative properties for synaptic information processing, the demonstration of astrocyte regulation of synaptic transmission at single synapses, the first description of astrocyte involvement in endocannabinoid signaling and its consequences on synaptic transmission; the first design of artificial AstroNeuronal networks -a novel concept in artificial intelligence-, and the demonstration that artificial astrocytes improve network performance; the demonstration of astrocyte-mediated synaptic plasticity in vivo; and the demonstration of astrocyte-neuron signaling in human brain tissue.

We are currently investigating the cellular mechanisms and physio-pathological consequences of astrocyte-neuron interactions in different brain areas to test the working hypothesis that brain function results from the operation of AstroNeuronal networks established by the coordinated activity of astrocytes and neurons. We are also interested in deciphering the contribution of the altered function of Tripartite Synapses and AstroNeuronal networks to brain diseases.


Selected Publications:

(For a comprehensive list of recent publications, refer to PubMed, a service provided by the National Library of Medicine.)

  • Covelo A, Araque A. Neuronal activity determines distinct gliotransmitter release from a single astrocyte. Elife. 2018 Jan 30;7. pii: e32237.
  • Lines J, Covelo A, Gómez R, Liu L, Araque A. Synapse-specific regulation revealed at single synapses Is concealed when recording multiple synapses. Front Cell Neurosci. 2017;11:367.
  • Martin-Fernandez M, Jamison S, Robin LM, Zhao Z, Martin ED, Aguilar J, Benneyworth MA, Marsicano G, Araque A. Synapse-specific astrocyte gating of amygdala-related behavior. Nat Neurosci. 2017;20(11):1540-1548.
  • Araque A, Castillo PE, Manzoni OJ, Tonini R. Synaptic functions of endocannabinoid signaling in health and disease. Neuropharmacology. 2017;124:13-24.
  • Gómez-Gonzalo M, Martin-Fernandez M, Martínez-Murillo R, Mederos S, Hernández-Vivanco A, Jamison S, Fernandez AP, Serrano J, Calero P, Futch HS, Corpas R, Sanfeliu C, Perea G, Araque A. Neuron-astrocyte signaling is preserved in the aging brain. Glia. 2017;65(4):569-580.
  • Fernandez AM, Hernandez-Garzón E, Perez-Domper P, Perez-Alvarez A, Mederos S, Matsui T, Santi A, Trueba-Saiz A, García-Guerra L, Pose-Utrilla J, Fielitz J, Olson EN, Fernandez de la Rosa R, Garcia Garcia L, Pozo MA, Iglesias T, Araque A, Soya H, Perea G, Martin ED, Torres Aleman I. Insulin regulates astrocytic glucose handling through vooperation with IGF-I. Diabetes. 2017;66(1):64-74.
  • Perea G, Gómez R, Mederos S, Covelo A, Ballesteros JJ, Schlosser L, Hernández-Vivanco A, Martín-Fernández M, Quintana R, Rayan A, Díez A, Fuenzalida M, Agarwal A, Bergles DE, Bettler B, Manahan-Vaughan D, Martín ED, Kirchhoff F, Araque A. Activity-dependent switch of GABAergic inhibition into glutamatergic excitation in astrocyte-neuron networks. Elife. 2016 Dec 24;5. pii: e20362.
  • Hernandez-Garzón E, Fernandez AM, Perez-Alvarez A, Genis L, Bascuñana P, Fernandez de la Rosa R, Delgado M, Angel Pozo M, Moreno E, McCormick PJ, Santi A, Trueba-Saiz A, Garcia-Caceres C, Tschöp MH, Araque A, Martin ED, Torres Aleman I. The insulin-like growth factor I receptor regulates glucose transport by astrocytes. Glia. 2016;64(11):1962-1971.
  • Covelo A, Araque A. Lateral regulation of synaptic transmission by astrocytes. Neuroscience. 2016;323:62-66.
  • Gómez-Gonzalo M, Navarrete M, Perea G, Covelo A, Martín-Fernández M, Shigemoto R, Luján R, Araque A. Endocannabinoids induce lateral long-term potentiation of transmitter release by stimulation of gliotransmission. Cereb Cortex. 2015;25(10):3699-36712.
  • Martin R, Bajo-Grañeras R, Moratalla R, Perea G, Araque A. Circuit-specific signaling in astrocyte-neuron networks in basal ganglia pathways. Science 2015;349:730-734.
  • Oliveira JF, Sardinha VM, Guerra-Gomes S, Araque A, Sousa N. Do stars govern our actions? Astrocyte involvement in rodent behavior. Trends Neurosci. 2015;38:535-549.
  • Jego P, Pacheco-Torres J, Araque A, Canals S. Functional MRI in mice lacking IP3-dependent calcium signaling in astrocytes. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2014;34(10):1599-603.
  • Navarrete M, Díez A, Araque A. Astrocytes in endocannabinoid signalling. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2014;369(1654):20130599.
  • Perez-Alvarez A, Navarrete M, Covelo A, Martin ED, Araque A. Structural and functional plasticity of astrocyte processes and dendritic spine interactions. J Neurosci. 2014;34(38):12738-12744.
  • Perea G, Sur M, Araque A. Neuron-glia networks: integral gear of brain function. Front Cell Neurosci.2014; 8:378.
  • Araque A, Carmignoto G, Haydon PG, Oliet SH, Robitaille R, Volterra A. Gliotransmitters travel in time and space. Neuron. 2014;81(4):728-739.
  • Araque A, Camignoto G, Haydon PG, Oliet SH, Robitaille R, Volterra A. Gliotransmitters travel in time and space. Neuron 2014;81:728-739.
  • Navarrete M, Perea G, Maglio L, Pastor J, de Sola RG, Araque A. Astrocyte calcium signal and gliotransmission in human brain tissue. Cerebral Cortex 2013;23:1240-1246.
  • Navarrete M, Perea G, Fernandez de Sevilla D, Gómez-Gonzalo M, Núñez A, Martín ED, Araque A. Astrocytes mediate in vivo cholinergic-induced synaptic plasticity. PLoS Biol. 2012;10:e1001259.
  • Porto-Pazos AB, Veiguela N, Mesejo P, Navarrete M, Alvarellos A, Ibáñez O, Pazos A, Araque A. Artificial astrocytes improve neural network performance. PLoS One. 2011;6:e19109.         

Current Graduate Students:

Justin Lines (Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).

Michelle Corkrum (Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).

Caitlin Durkee (Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).

Alfonso Araque