Although it has been revealed that astrocytes, generally known as star-shaped glial cells, play critical roles in the functions of central nervous system, there have been few efforts to directly modulate their activities and responses. In this study, an optical stimulation strategy for producing intracellular Ca2+ transients of astrocytes is demonstrated using near-infrared (NIR) light and localized surface plasmon resonance. It is presented that NIR stimulation of micro-second duration combined with gold nanorods (GNRs) efficiently produces stronger Ca2+ transients of astrocytes, which seems to be associated with a local heat generation by photothermal effects of GNRs. Since the proposed scheme can directly activate astrocytes with a high reliability, it is expected that GNR-mediated NIR stimulation could be utilized to facilitate minimally invasive physiological studies on the astrocyte functions. (Figure presented.) Photos of intracellular Ca2+ transient of astrocytes with membrane-bound GNRs after optical stimulation at 30 s.
- astrocyte cells
- gold nanorods
- intracellular calcium signaling
- localized surface plasmon resonance
- near-infrared laser stimulation