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The Collaborative International Dictionary

astrocyte \astrocyte\ n. a large star-shaped neuroglial cell in nervous tissue.


n. (context neurology English) a neuroglial cell, in the shape of a star, in the brain


n. comparatively large neuroglial cell


Astrocytes (Astro from Greek astron = star and cyte from Greek "kyttaron" = cell), also known collectively as astroglia, are characteristic star-shaped glial cells in the brain and spinal cord. The proportion of astrocytes in the brain is not well defined. Depending on the counting technique used, studies have found that the astrocyte proportion varies by region and ranges from 20% to 40% of all glia. They perform many functions, including biochemical support of endothelial cells that form the blood–brain barrier, provision of nutrients to the nervous tissue, maintenance of extracellular ion balance, and a role in the repair and scarring process of the brain and spinal cord following traumatic injuries.

Research since the mid-1990s has shown that astrocytes propagate intercellular Ca waves over long distances in response to stimulation, and, similar to neurons, release transmitters (called gliotransmitters) in a Ca-dependent manner. Data suggest that astrocytes also signal to neurons through Ca-dependent release of glutamate. Such discoveries have made astrocytes an important area of research within the field of neuroscience.

Usage examples of "astrocyte".

But instead, they penetrated deep into the inner cerebrum and began to populate the astrocyte cells.

She recognized star shaped astrocytes, and the presence of macro phages--the cleanup crew, whose function is to tidy up after infection.