Difference Between Astrocyte and Microglia

The central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and spinal string, is perhaps the almost fascinating and essential of all organs in body. Ii critically of import neuroglial jail cell types are astrocytes and microglia. Their function is to communicate with neurons and provide biochemical support to the CNS.

What are astrocytes?

Astrocytes are macroglia cells and the most prevalent jail cell blazon in the CNS, making upward anything betwixt 20-50% of the volume of glia.

Astrocytes are highly active. In humans, a single astrocyte cell tin can interact with up to two meg synapses at a time. Astrocytes play a number of roles in the CNS. These include

  • generating proteins besides as cytokines, which signal proteins involved in the immune system,
  • secreting and absorbing neural transmitters,
  • providing nutrients to the nervous tissue,
  • maintaining extracellular ion balance,
  • repairing the brain and spinal cord following infection and traumatic injury, and
  • maintaining the blood–brain barrier through providing biochemical support to the cells that grade the blood–brain barrier.

Astrocytes regulate the transmission of electric impulses and potassium within the brain, store and release glucose, and according to N. Swaminathan, regulate claret flow in the encephalon.

Astrocytes are important participants in various neurodevelopmental disorders. A. J. Barker and Ullian, for example, link astrocyte dysfunction to improper neural circuitry, and by virtue of that psychiatric disorders such as autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia.

What are microglia?

Microglia are a second type of neuroglial cell in the brain and spinal cord. Microglia inhabit virtually v-20% of the mammalian brain and constantly move around within the CNS, engaging in extracellular signaling and identifying damaged neurons and infectious agents to maintain homeostasis. Thousand. Kreutzberg suggests they are the beginning line of defense in encephalon pathologies, acting like macrophages or white blood cells that engulf and digest damaged or infected cells. The role of microglia is thus primarily defensive.

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Microglial cells are extremely plastic; they prefer a specific form in response to the local conditions and the chemical signals they observe, and they undergo a variety of structural changes based on location and system needs. Microglial are too extremely sensitive to even small pathological changes in the central nervous arrangement, reacting quickly to decrease inflammation and destroying infectious agents before they damage sensitive neural tissue subsequently infectious agents have passed through the blood brain bulwark.

Microglial cells allowed response activity is a double-edged sword, however. Specifically, later on condign activated, microglia may release chemicals into the extracellular space to activate more microglia and start a cytokine storm. In other words, in addition to being able to destroy infectious organisms past engulfing foreign or damaged matter, microglia can likewise release a multifariousness of cytotoxic substances in the process, such as hydrogen peroxide, nitric oxide, glutamate, aspartate, and quinolinic acrid. These chemicals can damage cells and lead to neuronal prison cell death. In other words, microglial cells when activated can cause collateral damage in their endeavor to protect the brain from pathogens.

Luckily, mail-inflammation, microglia take steps to promote the regrowth of neural tissue. Contempo inquiry by C. Cserép et al. supports the idea that using intercellular advice pathways, microglia exert non but robust neuroprotective effects merely also contribute significantly to repairing brain tissue after brain injury.

So, how are astrocytes and microglia different?

Although both are types of neuroglia, astrocytes are macroglia and more prevalent, making up 20-50% of the book of the CNS as opposed to merely 5-20% for microglia.

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Both microglia and astrocytes reply to neuronal injury by proliferating, altering, mediating, and engulfing damaged or infected cells and subcellular elements. These changes stand for the CNS tissue response to damage or degeneration. Microglia, however, have been shown to be more sensitive to pathogens.

Each type of neuroglia has distinct functions. So, although both offer physical and metabolic support to the CNS, astrocytes nourish neurons whereas microglia protect neurons from pathogens that accept permeated the blood brain barrier, even if that defensive role results in collateral harm.

Each type of neuroglia also has distinct psychiatric significance. Whereas astrocytes have been shown to exist involved in neurodevelopment disorders such as autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia, microglia have been shown to be involved in the pathophysiology of obsessive-compulsive disorders and Tourette’s syndrome.

Table illustrating the chief differences between astrocytes and microglia


Astrocytes and microglia are ii different types of neuroglia that support the CNS. While the more than prolific astrocytes attend cells in the CNS, including other neuroglia, microglia protect and defend neurons from pathogens that have permeated the blood brain barrier. Both aid with the repair of damaged neural tissue. Dysfunction of each neuroglia is associated with distinct psychiatric disorders, astrocytes with autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia and microglia with obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette’s syndrome.


Are microglia a type of astrocyte?

Microglia and astrocytes are distinct types of neuroglial cells distributed throughout the CNS and have a dissimilar genesis and part. Tian et al. notes that astrocytes are macroglia that attune the entry of immune cells into the CNS via the blood–brain bulwark and perform an executive-coordinating part in relationship to other neuroglia like microglia.

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How do astrocytes interact with microglia?

Interaction betwixt activated microglia and astrocytes plays a critical function in reducing neuroinflammation. Via oligodendrocytes, astrocytes activate microglia when unable to foreclose pathogens from permeating the claret brain barrier. In turn, microglia activate and secrete molecular signals to trigger reactive astrocytes to reduce neuroinflammation.

What are oligodendrocytes and how are they different astrocytes and microglia?

Oligodendrocytes are another type of neuroglial cell that wrap a myelin sheath made of lipid and protein effectually axons, or nervus fibers, to support, insulate and facilitate the transmission of neural signals. So, unlike astrocytes that nourish neurons and microglia that protect neurons from pathogens, oligodendrocytes facilitate communication betwixt neurons and glia, including microglia.

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