IJMS, Vol. 23, Pages 5805: Intercellular Communication in the Central Nervous System as Deduced by Chemical Neuroanatomy and Quantitative Analysis of Images: Impact on Neuropharmacology (International Journal of Molecular Sciences)
In the last decades, new evidence on brain structure and function has been acquired by morphological investigations based on synergic interactions between biochemical anatomy approaches, new techniques in microscopy and brain imaging, and quantitative analysis of the obtained images. This effort produced an expanded view on brain architecture, illustrating the central nervous system as a huge network of cells and regions in which intercellular communication processes, involving not only neurons but also other cell populations, virtually determine all aspects of the integrative function performed by the system. The main features of these processes are described. They include the two basic modes of intercellular communication identified (i.e., wiring and volume transmission) and mechanisms modulating the intercellular signaling, such as cotransmission and allosteric receptor–receptor interactions. These features may also open new possibilities for the development of novel pharmacological approaches to address central nervous system diseases. This aspect, with a potential major impact on molecular medicine, will be also briefly discussed.