Glia as architects of central nervous system formation and function

Nicola J Allen, David A Lyons

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Glia constitute roughly half of the cells of the central nervous system (CNS) but were long-considered to be static bystanders to its formation and function. Here we provide an overview of how the diverse and dynamic functions of glial cells orchestrate essentially all aspects of nervous system formation and function. Radial glia, astrocytes, oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, oligodendrocytes, and microglia each influence nervous system development, from neuronal birth, migration, axon specification, and growth through circuit assembly and synaptogenesis. As neural circuits mature, distinct glia fulfill key roles in synaptic communication, plasticity, homeostasis, and network-level activity through dynamic monitoring and alteration of CNS structure and function. Continued elucidation of glial cell biology, and the dynamic interactions of neurons and glia, will enrich our understanding of nervous system formation, health, and function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-185
Number of pages5
Issue number6411
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2018


  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Central Nervous System/blood supply
  • Mice
  • Neurogenesis
  • Neuroglia/cytology
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Neurons/cytology
  • Synapses
  • Synaptic Transmission

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