New insights into neuron-glia communication

Science. 2002 Oct 18;298(5593):556-62. doi: 10.1126/science.298.5593.556.


Two-way communication between neurons and nonneural cells called glia is essential for axonal conduction, synaptic transmission, and information processing and thus is required for normal functioning of the nervous system during development and throughout adult life. The signals between neurons and glia include ion fluxes, neurotransmitters, cell adhesion molecules, and specialized signaling molecules released from synaptic and nonsynaptic regions of the neuron. In contrast to the serial flow of information along chains of neurons, glia communicate with other glial cells through intracellular waves of calcium and via intercellular diffusion of chemical messengers. By releasing neurotransmitters and other extracellular signaling molecules, glia can affect neuronal excitability and synaptic transmission and perhaps coordinate activity across networks of neurons.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / cytology
  • Astrocytes / physiology
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cell Communication*
  • Humans
  • Microglia / cytology
  • Microglia / physiology
  • Myelin Sheath / physiology
  • Nerve Regeneration
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neuroglia / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology
  • Oligodendroglia / physiology
  • Schwann Cells / cytology
  • Schwann Cells / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission


  • Neurotransmitter Agents