Mathematical modeling of calcium dynamics in astrocytes
Mantzaris, Nikolaos V.
Master of Science
Beyond their well-known role as providers of nutrients and mechanical support for neurons, recent experiments have established an active role of astrocytes in the nervous system. Although the astrocytic calcium dynamics have been linked to information processing in the mammalian brain, the mechanisms responsible for key features of calcium dynamics are not clearly understood. This master thesis aims at giving insight into the underlying biomolecular mechanisms, through the use of mathematical modeling. I developed a uniform model reduction framework, which I applied to a general model for calcium dynamics. Then using phase plane techniques, I linked mechanistic assumptions of the model to experimentally observed key features of the calcium dynamics, like excitability and frequency encoding. Calcium is a ubiquitous second messenger. The proposed reduction techniques can be utilized to study the coupling of calcium dynamics with other signal transduction modules, in a large variety of biological systems.