Neuroscience

Genetic malfunction of brain astrocytes triggers migraine

Neuroscientists of the University of Zurich shed a new light on the mechanisms responsible for familial migraine: They show that a genetic dysfunction in specific brain cells of the cingulate cortex area strongly influences ...

Neuroscience

Star-shaped brain cells may play a critical role in glaucoma

After a brain injury, cells that normally nourish nerves may actually kill them instead, a new study in rodents finds. This "reactive" phenomenon may be the driving factor behind neurodegenerative diseases like glaucoma, ...

Neuroscience

Adult astrocytes are key to learning and memory

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine reveal that astrocytes, the most abundant cells in the brain, play a direct role in the regulation of neuronal circuits involved in learning and memory. The findings appear in the ...

Neuroscience

Research shows how stress remodels the brain

Research led by Si-Qiong June Liu, MD, Ph.D., Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has shown how stress changes the structure of the brain and reveals a potential therapeutic ...

Oncology & Cancer

Scientists reveal brain tumors impact normally helpful cells

When the brain gets injured, star-shaped brain cells called astrocytes come to the rescue. In the case of glioma—the most common type of primary brain tumor—this protective action comes at a price.

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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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