Chapter: Human Neuroanatomy(Fundamental and Clinical): Introduction to Neuroanatomy

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Functions of Neuroglia

The following are the functions of neuroglia.

FUNCTIONS OF NEUROGLIA

The following are the functions of neuroglia.

a.              They provide mechanical support to neurons.

b.              In view of their non-conducting nature they serve as insulators and prevent neuronal impulses from spreading in unwanted directions.

c.               They are believed to help neuronal function by playing an important role in maintaining a suitable metabolic environment for the neurons. They can absorb neurotransmitters from synapses thus terminating their action. It has been held that they play a role in maintaining the blood-brain barrier, but this view is open to question.

d.              As mentioned above, oligodendrocytes provide myelin sheaths to nerve fibres within the central nervous system.

e.               Ependymal cells are concerned in exchanges of material between the brain and the cerebrospinal fluid.

Clinical:

f.                Neuroglial cells are responsible for repair of damaged areas of nervous tissue. They proliferate in such regions (gliosis). These cells (specially microglia) may act as macrophages. (Macrophages are cells that can engulf and destroy unwanted material). Large areas of gliosis can be seen by eye and in MRI scans.


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