Glia in health and disease

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Long thought to serve a passive role in the central nervous system (CNS), glial cells are now recognised to actively support neurons in brain development and function, whilst also supporting nervous system homeostasis. At least half the volume of the brain is made up of glial cells—oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, microglia and nerve glial antigen cells. Glia also serve important functions outside of the brain, for instance, enteric glia, a lesser-studied sub-population of glia that reside in the walls of the gut, have emerged as essential regulators of gastrointestinal functions. However, fundamental questions remain about several aspects of their biology. Perturbation of glial function characterises a multitude of brain disorders and gastrointestinal diseases, from Multiple Sclerosis, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, to autism and glioma, yet a complete appreciation of the underlying pathophysiology is lacking. A more holistic picture of all players of the CNS will contribute to a deeper mechanistic understanding of neurological disorders, that is essential for devising successful therapeutic interventions.

This Collection invites original articles which describe new experimental models and tools to study glial function, as well as submissions that advance our understanding of their roles in health and disease.

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