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Glia. 2011 Sep;59(9):1341-50. doi: 10.1002/glia.21097. Epub 2010 Dec 1.

Glial cell modulation of circadian rhythms.

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Department of Neuroscience, Center for Neuroscience Research, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.


Studies of Drosophila and mammals have documented circadian changes in the morphology and biochemistry of glial cells. In addition, it is known that astrocytes of flies and mammals contain evolutionarily conserved circadian molecular oscillators that are similar to neuronal oscillators. In several sections of this review, I summarize the morphological and biochemical rhythms of glia that may contribute to circadian control. I also discuss the evidence suggesting that glia-neuron interactions may be critical for circadian timing in both flies and mammals. Throughout the review, I attempt to compare and contrast findings from these invertebrate and vertebrate models so as to provide a synthesis of current knowledge and indicate potential research avenues that may be useful for better understanding the roles of glial cells in the circadian system.

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