Noted neurologists reveal new insights into glia cell role in brain function
(Medical Xpress)—Adriano Aguzzi, Ben Barres and Mariko Bennett, noted American neurologists for their research into the role glia cells play in brain function, have written a review paper for the journal Science. In it, they assert that it is their belief that glia cells play a far more important role in brain function than is commonly believed.
In the brain and the rest of the central nervous system, there are two main kinds of cells: nerve cells, and the 90 percent of cells that are not nerve cells, collectively called glia – the gelatinous part of our brains, or as its name implies, the glue that holds everything in our skull together. That everything of course, includes the electrical network that allows us to do the myriad of things that we are capable of doing.
In their review, the researchers point out that as more research is done on non-neural cells in the nervous system, the more it is discovered that the neural cells would not be able to do their job were it not for the microglia. As one example, in research performed by Barres and other colleagues in a study published in 2005, it was found that astrocytes – the most common type of glia cells – are actually responsible for determining when and where synapses form. Prior to that it was believed they did little more than mop up after neural cells.
More importantly, the team suggests that more recent research has revealed that the brain may have a different type of inflammation than has been previously known. Instead, of familiar symptoms, such as swelling, redness, heat and pain, they suggest that a new word be coined "neuroinflammation" to describe what goes on during some viral infections of the central nervous system or when an autoimmune diseases strikes. They also suggest that instead of deeming some diseases as degenerative, they should be classified and viewed as a new type of neural specific inflammation.
The trio also point out that recent research has shown microglia tend to serve as a surveillance system for the brain, sounding the alarm when things go wrong and ushering in systems to mount a response if attacked or to get to work on performing repair work. Because of this, they suggest that some diseases that are attributed to other causes, may in fact be similar to autoimmune diseases that get out of hand. Instead of protecting the neural system, the microglia may wind up slowly eating it away.
In summation, the team suggests that that the research and medical community cease thinking of neural and glial cells as separate entities with neural cells getting the bulk of attention and instead focus more attention on the roles they all play together in providing us human beings with the ability to think, move and function as the complex biological specimens we all are.
More information: Microglia: Scapegoat, Saboteur, or Something Else? Science 11 January 2013: Vol. 339 no. 6116 pp. 156-161 DOI: 10.1126/science.1227901
Microglia are resident immune cells in the brain and spinal cord. These cells provide immune surveillance and are mobilized in response to disparate diseases and injuries. Although microglial activation is often considered neurotoxic, microglia are essential defenders against many neurodegenerative diseases. It also seems increasingly likely that microglial dysfunction can underlie certain neurological diseases without an obvious immune component.
Journal reference: Science
© 2013 Medical Xpress
- Milestone in the regeneration of brain cells Aug 20, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Post brain injury: New nerve cells originate from neural stem cells Mar 11, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Neural protective protein has two faces May 30, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- What decides neural stem cell fate? May 05, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- A new program for neural stem cells May 12, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
22 hours ago From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
Marie Curie's leukemia
May 13, 2013 Does anyone know what might be the cause of Marie Curie's cancer
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
In 2008 researchers from the University of Southern Denmark showed that the drug thioridazine, which has previously been used to treat schizophrenia, is also a powerful weapon against antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as ...
Medical research May 17, 2013 | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Scientists investigating the interaction of a group of proteins in the brain responsible for protecting nerve cells from damage have identified a new target that could increase cell survival.
Medical research May 17, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
New findings by researchers carrying out experiments at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science's Advanced Photon Source (APS) help explain why some drugs that interact with two kinds of human serotonin ...
Medical research May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0 |
Peptide molecules derived from the body's natural immune system can help boost the body's defence against life-threatening blood poisoning, joint University research has uncovered.
Medical research May 17, 2013 | 4 / 5 (1) | 0 |
A new Montréal study conducted by Dr. May Faraj, associate research professor at the Université de Montréal and invited scientist at the IRCM, along with her research team and medical collaborators, shows ...
Medical research May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0 |
Regular consumption of coffee is associated with a reduced risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), an autoimmune liver disease, Mayo Clinic research shows. The findings were being presented at the Digestive Disease ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Patients with treatment-resistant major depression saw dramatic improvement in their illness after treatment with ketamine, an anesthetic, according to the largest ketamine clinical trial to-date led by researchers from the ...
1 hour ago | 4.5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Research presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) explores new methods for managing digestive health through diet and lifestyle.
52 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
There are significant cost and risk factors associated with two procedures commonly used to diagnose or treat gastrointestinal problems, according to research presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW).
42 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
The use of a smartphone application significantly improves patients' preparation for a colonoscopy, according to new research presented today at Digestive Disease Week (DDW). The preparation process, which begins days in ...
32 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
An increasing number of U.S. children are experiencing gastrointestinal issues that require interventions to resolve, according to research presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW).
15 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |