How Glial Cells Are Responsible For Much Greater Function

1200 Words Nov 22nd, 2015 5 Pages
Glial cells are the most numerous cells in the brain, outnumbering neurons nearly 3:1, although smaller and some lacking axonal and dendritic projections. Once thought to play a subpar role to neurons, glial cells are now recognized as responsible for much greater functions. There are many types of glial cells, including: oligodendrocytes, microglia, and astrocytes. Oligodendrocytes form the myelin sheath in the CNS, by wrapping themselves around the axons of neurons. Their PNS counterpart, Schwann cells, are also considered glial cells. This sheath insulates the axon and increases the speed of transmission, analogous to the coating on electrical wires. Microglia are considered to be “immune system-like”; removing viruses, fungi, and other wastes that are present. Astrocytes, however, are considered to be the most prominent. Their functions span throughout the brain, including, but not limited to: the synchronization of axonal transmission via G-protein-coupled receptors, blood flow regulation via the dilation of blood vessels, and the performance of reactive gliosis in conjunction with microglia. Both astrocytes and oligodendrocytes develop from neuroepithelial cells. Other types of glial cells include Radial glia, which direct immature neuron migration during development.
Astrocytes have been shown to communicate amongst themselves, as well as participate in bidirectional communication with neurons via the 'Tripartite synapse '. Ca2+-dependent glutamate release also…

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