Astrocyte-mediated Transduction of Muscle Fiber Contractions Synchronizes Hippocampal Neuronal Network Development

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exercise supports brain health in part by enhancing hippocampal function. The leading hypothesis is that muscles release factors when they contract (e.g., lactate, myokines, growth factors) that enter circulation and reach the brain where they enhance plasticity (e.g., increase neurogenesis and synaptogenesis). However, it remains unknown how the muscle signals are transduced by the hippocampal cells to modulate network activity and synaptic development. Thus, we established an in vitro model in which the media from contracting primary muscle cells (CM) is applied to developing primary hippocampal cell cultures on a microelectrode array. We found that the hippocampal neuronal network matures more rapidly (as indicated by synapse development and synchronous neuronal activity) when exposed to CM than regular media (RM). This was accompanied by a 4.4- and 1.4-fold increase in the proliferation of astrocytes and neurons, respectively. Further, experiments established that factors released by astrocytes inhibit neuronal hyper-excitability induced by muscle media, and facilitate network development. Results provide new insight into how exercise may support hippocampal function by regulating astrocyte proliferation and subsequent taming of neuronal activity into an integrated network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-36
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023


  • Exercise
  • astrogliogenesis
  • hippocampus
  • in vitro model
  • muscle
  • neural network
  • neurogenesis
  • neuronal maturation
  • synaptogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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