GLIA: listening and talking to the synapse

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2001 Mar;2(3):185-93. doi: 10.1038/35058528.


Glial cells are emerging from the background to become more prominent in our thinking about integration in the nervous system. Given that glial cells associated with synapses integrate neuronal inputs and can release transmitters that modulate synaptic activity, it is time to rethink our understanding of the wiring diagram of the nervous system. It is no longer appropriate to consider solely neuron-neuron connections; we also need to develop a view of the intricate web of active connections among glial cells, and between glia and neurons. Without such a view, it might be impossible to decode the language of the brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / physiology
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Gap Junctions / physiology
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Neuroglia / physiology*
  • Neuroglia / ultrastructure
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Schwann Cells / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Glutamic Acid
  • Calcium