The dynamic roles of glial and stromal cells in neurological diseases
Multiple cell types surround neurons in the central nervous system (CNS), including glial cells like astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and microglial cells, which play key roles to maintain homeostasis and support the neuronal machinery. Other non-neuronal cells, such as endothelial cells and pericytes, are also directly implicated in the CNS structure and functions.
Consequently, glial cells are also now well-known for their involvement in diseases that set in the CNS, including neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease. In this context, glial cells interact with each other to organize an integrated reaction to fight disease progression and protect neuronal integrity; nevertheless, maintenance of this reactive state in the glial cells, such as during chronic inflammation, can eventually be detrimental to neurons. In the same way, the implication of glial cells and other non-neuronal / stromal cells in brain tumor development has been recently acknowledged, with an increasing number of reports showing how tumor cells in the brain can hijack their direct microenvironment, causing cells such as astrocytes to eventually become a strong support for cancer growth as the disease progresses.
A better knowledge of both the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the roles of glial cells and other non-neuronal cells in neurological diseases can provide with highly valuable inputs for developing new therapeutic strategies and diagnostic tools, with the aim to improve patients’ quality of life. Accordingly, recent technological advancements, such as single cell sequencing, and improved understanding of intercellular communication means, including extracellular vesicles, have allowed for a more complete description of the CNS cellular compartment organization.
The present collection will thus introduce the latest developments in our understanding of the roles of glial cells and other non-neuronal / stromal cells of the CNS in neurological diseases, with an extra focus put on those showing high potential for future clinical applications.
Prof. Georgios Giamas and Dr. Thomas Simon
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