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

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 ...

Medical research

Astrocytes derived from patients with bipolar disorder malfunction

Brain cells called astrocytes derived from the induced pluripotent stem cells of patients with bipolar disorder offer suboptimal support for neuronal activity. In a paper appearing March 4th in the journal Stem Cell Reports, ...

Neuroscience

Star-shaped brain cells may be linked to stuttering

Astrocytes—star-shaped cells in the brain that are actively involved in brain function—may play an important role in stuttering, a study led by a University of California, Riverside, expert on stuttering has found.

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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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