Astrocytic processes: from tripartite synapses to the active milieu

Alexey Semyanov, Alexei Verkhratsky

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We define a new concept of ‘active milieu’ that unifies all components of nervous tissue (neuronal and glial compartments, extracellular space, extracellular matrix, and vasculature) into a dynamic information processing system. Within this framework, we focus on the role of astrocytic processes, classified into organelle-containing branches and organelle-free leaflets. We argue that astrocytic branches with emanating leaflets are homologous to dendritic shafts with spines. Within the active milieu, astrocytic processes are engaged in reciprocal interactions with neuronal compartments and communication with other cellular and non-cellular elements of the nervous tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)781-792
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in neurosciences
Issue number10
Early online date31 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • astrocytic branch
  • astrocytic leaflet
  • extrasynaptic signaling


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