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The nonnervous, supporting elements of the nervous system.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also glia), the group of interstitial cells whose cell bodies and outgrowths fill the spaces in the brain and spinal cord between the capillary blood vessels and the nerve cells, or neurons.

Each neuron is surrounded by several neuroglial cells. The neuroglia is evenly distributed over the entire brain and accounts for approximately 40 percent of the brain’s volume. There are about 140 billion neuroglial cells within the mammalian central nervous system (CNS); they differ from neurons in size (neuroglial cells are three to four times smaller) and in morphological and biochemical characteristics. In contrast to neurons, the cells of the neuroglia retain the capacity to divide. This is why the number of neurons in the CNS decreases with age, while the number of neuroglial cells increases. The neuroglia acts as a protective layer for the neurons and forms part of the blood-brain barrier between the bloodstream and the encephalic neurons. This barrier regulates the passage of matter between the blood and the CNS. The neuroglia also helps to maintain the reactive properties of nerve tissue in such conditions as posttraumatic scarring, inflammatory reactions, and oncogenesis. The neuroglia comprises the astroglia (also called macroglia), oligoglia (also called oligodendroglia), and the ependyma. The microglia occupies a special position among neuroglial cells as the “scavenger” of the CNS.

Astrocytes (the cells of the astroglia) account for about 60 percent of the total number of neuroglial cells. They are star-shaped cells with numerous slender outgrowths that entwine the neurons and the walls of the capillary blood vessels. The astroglia regulates the water-salt metabolism of nervous tissue and is the principal element of the blood-brain barrier. About 25 to 30 percent of neuroglial cells are contained in the oligoglia. Oligodendrocytes (the cells of the oligoglia) are rounded cells with short outgrowths and are smaller than astrocytes. They surround the cell body and axon (the conducting portion) of a neuron. Oligodendrocytes are characterized by a highly active protein and nuclein metabolism and are also responsible for the transport of matter to the neurons. The myelin sheath that surrounds an axon mostly consists of oligodendrocytes. The ependyma consists of cylindrical cells that line the ventricles of the brain and the central lumen of the spinal cord. The ependyma is the barrier between the blood and cerebrospinal fluid and also appears to have a secretory function.

The neuroglia, especially the oligoglia, participates in the generation of the slow, spontaneous bioelectric activity that is characterized by α waves on an electroencephalogram. Neurons and neuroglial cells form a unified functional and metabolic complex that operates in cycles and has an adaptive function. The complex has the capacity to shift certain metabolic processes predominantly to the neuronal or to the neuroglial elements, depending on the nature and intensity of the physiological and pathological condition of the CNS.


Hidden, H. “Kletki-satellity ν nervnoi sisteme.” In the collection Struktura i funktsiia kletki. Moscow, 1964. (Translated from English.)
Pevzner, L. Z. Funktsional’naia biokhimiia neiroglii. Leningrad, 1972.
Kuffler, S. W., and J. G. Nicholls. “The Physiology of Neuroglial Cells.” In the collection Ergebnisse der Physiologic, biologischen Chemie und experimentellen Pharmakologie, vol. 57. Berlin-Heidelberg-New York, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
El desarrollo de estas arquitecturas no hubiese sido posible si no se acompanara de una serie de cambios en la base neural, comenzando por el aumento de volumen de la corteza cerebral, que conllevo, ademas, a un aumento en el metabolismo neuronal, resuelto efectivamente por el aumento en la proporcion de neuroglia, con lo cual la transmision sinaptica se hizo mas efectiva y permitio la complejidad de las funciones del sistema nervioso (Blazquez & Pelaez, 2013).
My third premise is that the "organ" added by evolution was neuropil, which is a sheet of neurons and neuroglia that are densely packed and interconnected by innumerable channels conducting chemical and electrical fields of energy, and by specific mechanisms of engagement of neurons in dyadic pairs through synapses.
Kern, "Interrelationships between the retinal neuroglia and vasculature in diabetes," Diabetes and Metabolism Journal, vol.
The presence of nestin-positive cells indicated that the breast-milk stem cells can be an appropriate candidate for differentiation toward neurons or neuroglia. The results of the current study revealed that the exposure of the whole cell population of breast milk to neurogenic medium led to an increase in the presence of nestin-positive cells and that the cell behavior in neurosphere formation is the same as what happened in the culture of neural stem cells [20].
A case of neuroglia choristoma in middle ear [in Chinese].
A very dense network of processes occupies the space between the cell bodies of the neurons, neuroglia (cells that support and protect neurons), and blood vessels.
Differentiated neuroglia cells are very sensitive to the deficiency of oxygen in the neonatal period, its defeat in the specified period leads to the disorders of myelinisation.
Survey of cerebellum white matter in the treatment group compared with normal cerebellum white matter tissue in control group demonstrated defects in the neuropil tissue which was accompanied by decreased staining and increased interstitial space and decreased neuroglia cell condensation.
This edition incorporates information on cerebral blood flow during exercise, the anti-fatigue action of catecholamines during exercise, the role of metabosensitive nerve endings in muscle fatigue, the nutritional role of neuroglia, multiple mechanisms for glucose absorption, the pathophysiology of clubbing of fingers, the staircase phenomenon, REM sleep, and the high degree of coordination involved in ciliary activity in the respiratory tract.
Key words: Neurons, neuroglia, Panax ginseng, fetal brain, anomalies.
mainly the nourishing function of the neuroglia and the lymphatic cells.
Some alterations of the plasma membrane have also been reported in neurons as well as in neuroglia which have been exposed to Mn [5, 10, 26, 42].