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Glial cells in neurotoxicity development.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157, USA.


Neuroglial cells of the central nervous system include the astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and microglia. Their counterparts in the peripheral nervous system are the Schwann cells. The term neuroglia comes from an erroneous concept originally coined by Virchow (1850), in which he envisioned the neurons to be embedded in a layer of connective tissue. The term, or its shortened form--glia, has persisted as the preferred generic term for these cells. A reciprocal relationship exists between neurons and glia, and this association is vital for mutual differentiation, development, and functioning of these cell types. Therefore, perturbations in glial cell function, as well as glial metabolism of chemicals to active intermediates, can lead to neuronal dysfunction. The purpose of this review is to explore neuroglial sites of neurotoxicant actions, discuss potential mechanisms of glial-induced or glial-mediated central nervous system and peripheral nervous system damage, and review the role of glial cells in neurotoxicity development.

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