. Astrocytes regulate GluR2 expression in motor neurons and their vulnerability to excitotoxicity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Sep 11;104(37):14825-30. PubMed.


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  1. Astrocytes are three times more abundant in brain than are neurons. They control the synaptic boutons of the neurons by controlling the amount of receptor in there (see Perea and Araque, 2007). Now these researchers discovered that astrocytes can control the number of GluR2. Taken together, the research suggests that in brain, astrocytes probably are doing some of the work that the cell matrix performs in other parts of the body. Now we need to study how astrocytes are doing that.

    SOD1 is an enzyme involved in oxidative stress. I suspect that astrocytes are controlling the oxidative stress in brain to save neurons from oxidative damage. Also, astrocytes probably perform some immune functions in brain. We published that astrocytes control the number of IL-1 receptors and the number of LPS receptors (TLR4). So I agree with this paper looking for astrocyte functions. I personally think astrocytes are even more important cells than are neurons. Neurons communicate with other cells, but astrocytes are also crucial to memory.

    View all comments by Soraya Valles

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