Neuroscience

Star-shaped brain cells orchestrate neural connections

Brains are made of more than a tangled net of neurons. Star-like cells called astrocytes diligently fill in the gaps between neural nets, each wrapping itself around thousands of neuronal connections called synapses. This ...

Alzheimer's disease & dementia

New drug reverses loss of brain connections in Alzheimer's disease

The first experimental drug to boost brain synapses lost in Alzheimer's disease has been developed by researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. The drug, called NitroMemantine, combines two FDA-approved medicines ...

Neuroscience

Model for brain signaling flawed, new study finds

A new study out today in the journal Science turns two decades of understanding about how brain cells communicate on its head. The study demonstrates that the tripartite synapse – a model long accepted by the scientific ...

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 ...

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 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 ...

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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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