Star-shaped glial cells, sensibly named astrocytes, are found throughout the central nervous system. They provide neurons with nutrients, clean up dead cells, and perform other important functions.
Astrocytes communicate using ATP, a molecule used in energy metabolism. The researchers who created this image used luminescence to study how mouse astrocytes communicate. Each time the cells sent a message, they would glow, making them all the more star-like. The scientists found the body’s internal clock drove the release of ATP.
Luciano Marpegan, Adrienne E. Swanstrom, Kevin Chung, Tatiana Simon, Philip G. Haydon, Sanjoy K. Khan, Andrew C. Liu, Erik D. Herzog, and Christian Beaulé. Circadian Regulation of ATP Release in Astrocytes. The Journal of Neuroscience, 8 June 2011, 31(23):8342-8350.
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