Neuroscience

Cannabinoids decrease the metabolism of glucose in the brain

The nervous system comprises neurons and glial cells (glia means 'glue'). Astrocytes are the most abundant among the glial cells. Among many other functions they undertake to capture glucose from the blood stream to provide ...

Neuroscience

Scientists capture diversity in the 'stars' of our nervous system

Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute have found that the location of astrocytes in the brain and spinal cord, may affect their role in maintaining the body's nervous system. This discovery could help scientists uncover ...

Neuroscience

Brain astrocytes show metabolic alterations in Parkinson's disease

A new study using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology links astrocyte dysfunction to Parkinson's disease (PD) pathology. The study carried out at the University of Eastern Finland and published in Scientific Reports ...

Neuroscience

Brain protein linked to seizures, abnormal social behaviors

A team led by a biomedical scientist at the University of California, Riverside has found a new mechanism responsible for the abnormal development of neuronal connections in the mouse brain that leads to seizures and abnormal ...

Medications

Scientists discover key regulator of neuron function and survival

Scientists studying neuronal energy metabolism found evidence that the loss of an important energy regulator called AMPK in neural stem cells or glial cells called astrocytes causes neuronal death in laboratory rodents. They ...

Neuroscience

Brain estrogen is key to brain protection when oxygen is low

When the brain isn't getting enough oxygen, estrogen produced by neurons in both males and females hyperactivates another brain cell type called astrocytes to step up their usual support and protect brain function.

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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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