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J Cell Mol Med. 2006 Oct-Dec;10(4):826-36.

Neuronal-glial networks as substrate for CNS integration.

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  • 1Faculty of Life Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.


Astrocytes have been considered, for a long time, as the support and house-keeping cells of the nervous system. Indeed, the astrocytes play very important metabolic roles in the brain, but the catalogue of nervous system functions or activities that involve directly glial participation has extended dramatically in the last decade. In addition to the further refining of the signalling capacity of the neuroglial networks and the detailed reassessment of the interactions between glia and vascular bed in the brain, one of the important salient features of the increased glioscience activity in the last few years was the morphological and functional demonstration that protoplasmic astrocytes occupy well defined spatial territories, with only limited areas of morphological overlapping, but still able to communicate with adjacent neighbours through intercellular junctions. All these features form the basis for a possible reassessment of the nature of integration of activity in the central nervous system that could raise glia to a role of central integrator.

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