Satellite Cells - Location, Structure, and Function
Astrocytes – Location, Structure, and Function
- Astrocytes are the most common support cell in the brain and spinal cord. Their thin cytoplasmic processes extend in all directions to make contact with capillaries, neurons, and other astrocytes.
- The processes that terminate on the capillaries expand into perivascular (end) feet, which cover the walls of these blood vessels.
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Research indicates that astrocytes perform many functions:
- They help form a blood-brain-barrier by secreting chemicals that regulate how capillary endothelial cells transfer substances into the CNS from the blood.
- They release lactose made from glucose, which neurons use for energy.
- They remove excess neurotransmitter and K+.
- They help regulate synaptic activity between neurons.
- They help increase blood flow when neurons are most active.
- Their microfilament-filled processes form a supportive network that helps hold neurons and blood vessels in place.
- They release nerve growth factor (NGF) and other growth factors to stimulate neuron growth in the embryonic brain and after injuries.
- They become phagocytic after injuries and help remove damaged tissues. If needed, they can also form glial scars.
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