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, 64 (2), 304-27

Satellite Glial Cells in Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Ganglia: In Search of Function


Satellite Glial Cells in Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Ganglia: In Search of Function

Menachem Hanani. Brain Res Rev.


Glial cells are established as essential for many functions of the central nervous system, and this seems to hold also for glial cells in the peripheral nervous system. The main type of glial cells in most types of peripheral ganglia - sensory, sympathetic, and parasympathetic - is satellite glial cells (SGCs). These cells usually form envelopes around single neurons, which create a distinct functional unit consisting of a neuron and its attending SGCs. This review presents the knowledge on the morphology of SGCs in sympathetic and parasympathetic ganglia, and the (limited) available information on their physiology and pharmacology. It appears that SGCs carry receptors for ATP and can thus respond to the release of this neurotransmitter by the neurons. There is evidence that SGCs have an uptake mechanism for GABA, and possibly other neurotransmitters, which enables them to control the neuronal microenvironment. Damage to post- or preganglionic nerve fibers influences both the ganglionic neurons and the SGCs. One major consequence of postganglionic nerve section is the detachment of preganglionic nerve terminals, resulting in decline of synaptic transmission. It appears that, at least in sympathetic ganglia, SGCs participate in the detachment process, and possibly in the subsequent recovery of the synaptic connections. Unlike sensory neurons, neurons in autonomic ganglia receive synaptic inputs, and SGCs are in very close contact with synaptic boutons. This places the SGCs in a position to influence synaptic transmission and information processing in autonomic ganglia, but this topic requires much further work.

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