Oncology & Cancer

New mechanism fueling brain metastasis discovered at Wistar

Scientists at The Wistar Institute described a novel mechanism through which astrocytes, the most abundant supporting cells in the brain, also promote cancer cell growth and metastasis in the brain.

Medical research

Astrocytes and epilepsy

The neurodevelopmental disorder Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) is characterized by often severe epilepsy, along with autism and psychiatric disorders. Astrocytes—star-shaped glial cells that serve multiple functions in ...

Neuroscience

Brain's astrocytes play starring role in long-term memory

Star-shaped cells called astrocytes help the brain establish long-lasting memories, Salk researchers have discovered. The new work adds to a growing body of evidence that astrocytes, long considered to be merely supportive ...

Neuroscience

Why are we so drawn to places of happy memories?

If somebody asks me "are you a coffee addict?" I may say, "Yeah it seems like, but on the one condition, only in my office." I don't have that much craving for coffee at home, but just being in the office, where I used to ...

Neuroscience

Researchers repair faulty brain circuits using nanotechnology

Working with mouse and human tissue, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers report new evidence that a protein pumped out of some—but not all—populations of "helper" cells in the brain, called astrocytes, plays a specific ...

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Astrocyte

Astrocytes (etymology: astron gk. star, cyte gk. cell), also known collectively as astroglia, are characteristic star-shaped glial cells in the brain and spinal cord. They perform many functions, including biochemical support of endothelial cells that form the blood–brain barrier, provision of nutrients to the nervous tissue, maintenance of extracellular ion balance, and a role in the repair and scarring process of the brain and spinal cord following traumatic injuries.

Research since the mid-1990s has shown that astrocytes propagate intercellular Ca2+ waves over long distances in response to stimulation, and, similar to neurons, release transmitters (called gliotransmitters) in a Ca2+-dependent manner. Data suggest that astrocytes also signal to neurons through Ca2+-dependent release of glutamate. Such discoveries have made astrocytes an important area of research within the field of neuroscience.

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