Grant-in-Aid for Transformative Research Areas(A)2020-2024
Glia decoding:
deciphering information critical for brain-body interaction
Lead Researcher:Shigeo Okabe

Purpose of the Research Project

The internal state of an animal changes continuously in response to the environment. The internal condition of the animal body also affects brain functions. Traditionally the sensory organs have been taken as the main route of interaction between the nervous system and the environment. However, recent studies proposed that glial cells play a central role in the interaction between the brain and peripheral tissue as a bidirectional interface. Internal conditions of the body are presented to the brain via the glial interface. Reciprocally, glial cells transmit signals of the brain status to the peripheral organs and tissues. The development of new methods for decoding the signals in glial cells (glia decoding) will help a full understanding of brain-body interactions.
This research program achieves comprehensive decoding of glial cell functions by recruiting researchers with new analytical methods or interest in peripheral organs. To this end, we set three goals as follows:

(1) Understand the information processing between glia and neural circuits, with particular reference to the dynamics of metabolic, cardiovascular, and immunological responses.

(2) Clarify the various interaction mechanisms between the environment, internal body state, and brain function, especially those operating via the glia-derived signals.

(3) Develop methods of decoding glial cell state, function, and intercellular signaling (glia decoding), which facilitate the understanding of signal integration in the brain-body interactions.
These approaches will clarify the functional correlation between brain and body, leading to a new research field beyond the current brain science.