Glial cells in (patho)physiology

Vladimir Parpura, Michael T. Heneka, Vedrana Montana, Stéphane H. R. Oliet, Arne Schousboe, Philip G. Haydon, Randy F. Stout, David C. Spray, Andreas Reichenbach, Thomas Pannicke, Milos Pekny, Marcela Pekna, Robert Zorec, Alexei Verkhratsky
Journal of Neurochemistry. 2012-02-02; 121(1): 4-27
DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2012.07664.x

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1. J Neurochem. 2012 Apr;121(1):4-27. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2012.07664.x. Epub
2012 Feb 2.

Glial cells in (patho)physiology.

Parpura V(1), Heneka MT, Montana V, Oliet SH, Schousboe A, Haydon PG, Stout RF
Jr, Spray DC, Reichenbach A, Pannicke T, Pekny M, Pekna M, Zorec R, Verkhratsky

Author information:
(1)Department of Neurobiology, Center for Glial Biology in Medicine, Civitan
International Research Center, Atomic Force Microscopy & Nanotechnology
Laboratories, and Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, University of Alabama,
Birmingham, Alabama, USA.

Neuroglial cells define brain homeostasis and mount defense against pathological
insults. Astroglia regulate neurogenesis and development of brain circuits. In
the adult brain, astrocytes enter into intimate dynamic relationship with
neurons, especially at synaptic sites where they functionally form the tripartite
synapse. At these sites, astrocytes regulate ion and neurotransmitter
homeostasis, metabolically support neurons and monitor synaptic activity; one of
the readouts of the latter manifests in astrocytic intracellular Ca(2+) signals.
This form of astrocytic excitability can lead to release of chemical transmitters
via Ca(2+) -dependent exocytosis. Once in the extracellular space,
gliotransmitters can modulate synaptic plasticity and cause changes in behavior.
Besides these physiological tasks, astrocytes are fundamental for progression and
outcome of neurological diseases. In Alzheimer’s disease, for example, astrocytes
may contribute to the etiology of this disorder. Highly lethal glial-derived
tumors use signaling trickery to coerce normal brain cells to assist tumor
invasiveness. This review not only sheds new light on the brain operation in
health and disease, but also points to many unknowns.

© 2012 The Authors. Journal of Neurochemistry © 2012 International Society for

DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2012.07664.x
PMCID: PMC3304021
PMID: 22251135 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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