Glia Cells

There are certain parts of the human body that despite numerous inventions, are still either undiscovered or have not been widely known to the people. One of these is the glia cells, or glial cells. Glia cells are parts of the brain that is equally important and have functions that are important to keep the body operating properly. Glia cells support the structure of the central nervous system (Russo, et. al. , n. d. ) and help in protecting neurons (Chudler, 2009). Researches have found out that these cells are not electrically active (Tamarkin, 2006).

There are many glia cells than neurons, and there are also many types of glia cells. All of these glia cells have integral roles in the nervous system (Russo, et. al, n. d. ). Science textbooks rarely mention glia cells. I think this is because glia cells are not very important, or are not given much emphasis just like appendix. Although glia cells are present, there but people who have no complete knowledge of what it really does for the body. In addition, I think that past researches were focused more on neurons, which have far important functions than the glia cells.

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Glia cells have different types whose functions overlap. The types are astrocyte, microglia, oligodendroglia, satellite cells, and Schwann Cells. Astrocyte (Astroglia) is star-shaped whose function is to provide nutritional and physical support for neurons. Specifically, astrocyte cleans the “debris” in the brain. It also carries nutrients to neurons and holds them in place. Other functions of astrocyte include digesting dead parts of neurons and regulating the content of extracellular space (Chudler, 2009).

The functions of microglia, on the other hand, are to remove waste and other debris and digest dead parts of neurons. These are so tiny. Oligodendroglia’s function is to myelinate (insulate) neurons in the central nervous system (Tamarkin, 2006). Satellite cells provide physical support to the neurons in the peripheral nervous system (Chudler, 2009). They are called “satellite” because the cells group around neuronal cell bodies (Tamarkin, 2006). The Schwann cells’ function is to insulate neurons in the peripheral nervous system (Chudler, 2009).

Aside from the abovementioned functions, glia cells have many other functions in the body. Without these glia cells, or if they stopped functioning, it will cause diseases that will disrupt the neurons’ normal functions. One of these diseases is multiple sclerosis, which can cause inappropriate behavior (Zhou, 2003). Neurons, on the other hand, are responsible for receiving and sending signals to one another (Palmer, 2003). An average human brain contains about 10 billion neurons (Willamette University, n. d. ). Neurons have similarities with other cells in the body.

For instance, neurons and cells in the pancreas are similar in the function of synthesizing and secreting compounds which send signals to other cells in the body (“The Brain on Glucose-Redux,” 2007). Moreover, neurons and other cells have nucleus and are surrounded by a membrane protecting the cell. Both cell types also have organelles whose function is to support the cell (Van Wagner, 2009). What makes a neuron unique is that it does not reproduce after birth. Despite this, researches found out that even though neurons do not reproduce, there are new connections between neurons that are formed throughout life.

The inability to reproduce also leads to parts of brain containing more neurons at birth than later in life. Neurons are not replaced. Furthermore, what makes neuron unique is that it has a membrane which sends information to other cells (Van Wagner, 2009). Neurons communicate through synapses. Synapses are the linking sites. Synaptic transmission would refer to the communication of information taking place in neurons. Communication starts when a red nerve impulse moves unilaterally, from left to right. Dendrites, which are located at the left end of the neuron, receive the information.

They also distribute electrochemical signals to the cell body. Information is sent away from the cell body through the axon, which is located at the neuron’s right end (Serendip, 2003). References Chudler, E. H. (2009). Glia: The forgotten brain cells. University of Washington. Retrieved March 2, 2009, from http://faculty. washington. edu/chudler/glia. html Palmer, J. K. (2003). Neurons, How they communicate with one another, And how drugs affect that communication process. Eastern Kentucky University. Retrieved March 2, 2009, from http://people. eku. edu/palmerj/200/neurons. htm Russo, G.

, Davis, T. , Bradford, T. , Hamilton, N. , Nabozny, A. , Stephan, K. , Larrabee, M. , and Damon, E. (n. d. ). The glia cell. The University of Arizona. Retrieved March 2, 2009, from http://student. biology. arizona. edu/honors2003/group04/glia. html Serendip. (2003). And here it is…the amazing…neuron!!! Retrieved March 2, 2009, from http://serendip. brynmawr. edu/bb/kinser/Nerve7. html Tamarkin, D. A. (2006). Glia. Springfield Technical Community College. Retrieved March 2, 2009, from http://faculty. stcc. edu/AandP/AP/AP1pages/nervssys/unit10/glia. htm “The Brain on Glucose-Redux.

” (2007). Retrieved March 2, 2009, from http://www. drmccleary. com/2007/09/13/TheBrainOnGlucoseRedux. aspx Van Wagner, K. (2009). What is a neuron? About. com. Retrieved March 2, 2009, from http://psychology. about. com/od/biopsychology/f/neuron01. htm Willamette University. (n. d. ). Computation in the brain. Retrieved March 2, 2009, from http://www. willamette. edu/~gorr/classes/cs449/brain. html Zhou, Q. (2003). Glial cell development in the vertebrate central nervous system. Retrieved March 2, 2009, from http://etd. caltech. edu/etd/available/etd-04092003-155305/

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