September 8th, 2020
Glial Cells Role in the Nervous System
For the brain to work efficiently, it is important that a nerve impulse arrives at its destination as quickly and as precisely as possible. It has been long been known that the nerve fibres -- also known as axons -- pass on these impulses. In the course of evolution, an insulating sheath -- myelin -- developed around the axons which increases the speed of conduction. This insulating sheath is formed by the second type of cell in the nervous system -- the glial cells, which are one of the main components of the brain. If, as a result of disease, myelin is depleted, this leads to neurological disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis or Morbus Charcot-Marie-Tooth.
Researchers at the University of Münster have discovered that glial cells not only control the speed of nerve conduction, but also influence the precision of signal transduction. In the absence of these insulating sheaths, short-circuit-like processes occur, which influence the accuracy of the stimulus transmission. The research results have been published in the journal Nature Communications.