Role of glia in synapse development

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2002 Oct;12(5):486-90. doi: 10.1016/s0959-4388(02)00358-6.


Recent studies suggest that glial cells regulate certain aspects of synapse development. Neurons can form synapses without glia, but may require glia-derived cholesterol to form numerous and efficient synapses. During synapse maturation, soluble and contact-dependent factors from glia may influence the composition of the postsynaptic density. Finally, synaptic connections appear to require glia to support their structural stability. Given the new evidence, it may be time now to acknowledge glia as a source for synaptogenesis-promoting signals. Scrutinizing the molecular mechanisms underlying this new function of glia and testing its relevance in vivo may help to understand how synapses develop and why they degenerate under pathological conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neuroglia / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*