Neuroscience

Healthy sleep may rely on long-overlooked brain cells

For something we spend one-third of our lives doing, we still understand remarkably little about how sleep works—for example, why can some people sleep deeply through any disturbance, while others regularly toss and turn ...

Neuroscience

Controlled scar formation in the brain

When the brain suffers injury or infection, glial cells surrounding the affected site act to preserve the brain's sensitive nerve cells and prevent excessive damage. A team of researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin ...

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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