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Mar 4

More than just the glue - glial modulation of neuronal function

Rafiq Huda '08, PhD Candidate, National Research Service Award (NRSA) Fellow, Dept. of Physiology, Northwestern University

Monday, March 4th, 2013
3:30 – 4:30 pm / Olin 141
Rafiq Huda

Abstract: The brain is composed of two major cell types - neurons and glia. Neurons have long been considered to be the workforce of the brain, while glia were conceived to provide only structural and metabolic support to neurons. However, pioneering studies over the past two decades have challenged this dogma and provided evidence that glia can dynamically contribute to essential physiological functions. The nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) is a major hub for visceral sensory input from the periphery and mediates homeostatic control of blood pressure, gastric motility, and breathing. While much is known about how different neuronal populations influence these functions, information about the role of glia remains scant. Here, I will present evidence that glial function regulates excitatory synaptic transmission in the NTS.This modulation may represent a simple cellular mechanism allowing glia to play an active role in critical physiological processes well beyond their established role as being the "glue" of the brain.

Sponsored by Biology. Contact: Lorie Tuma, x4884