Original Research

Glial cells of the central and peripheral nervous systems: An overview of existing research

Robert E. Haywood
Journal of Applied Neurosciences | Vol 3, No 1 | a13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jan.v3i1.13 | © 2024 Robert E. Haywood | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 March 2024 | Published: 09 July 2024

About the author(s)

Robert E. Haywood, South West Wellbeing Centre, Bunbury, Australia


Orientation: Until recently, most of that neural research was been directed at understanding the morphology and functions of the neuron. However, with advances in scanning and microscopy, the morphology and function of glia are attracting greater attention.

Research purpose: To many readers glia are often mysterious background players. This paper is an overview of existing literature was compiled to remove some of this mystery they may encounter when reading modern scientific neuroscience publications.

Motivation for the study: This study was motivated to increase understanding of the important roles played by glia cells in the efficient operation of the human nervous system.

Research approach or design and method: This study was compiled in the form of a literature review from freely accessible journal articles and common text books. Using key words ProQuest and Google Scholar databases were consulted for peer reviewed journal articles.

Main findings: Glia cells have a greater role than just ‘glue’ for neurons. Examples of their roles include maintaining the levels of essential extracellular cations such as calcium, the maintaining of the integrity of neural connectivity, the creation and release of communicating gliotransmitters, and the role of microglia as an integral part of the immune system.

Implications for practice: It is essential for anyone wanting to comprehend the mammalian nervous system as described in modern literature to have a broad understanding of the integration, signalling, and structural significance of glia. This overview provides a level of knowledge meeting this need.

Contribution or value-add: This overview has provided a basic, but comprehensive, low-cost launch-pad of knowledge to have a broad understanding of the integration, signalling, and structural significance of glia.


glia; macroglia; microglia; astrocyte; oligodendrocyte; Schwann cell; radial glia

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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