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Neuroglia 2018, 1(1), 21-29; https://doi.org/10.3390/neuroglia1010004

The Special Case of Human Astrocytes

1
Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PT, UK
2
Center for Basic and Translational Neuroscience, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, 2200 Copenhagen, Denmark
3
Achúcarro Basque Center for Neuroscience, 48940 Leioa, Spain
4
Division of Neuro-Oncology, Department of Neurological Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, CA 92093, USA
5
Center for Translational Neuromedicine, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA
6
Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Sciences, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Science, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth PO1 2UP, UK
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 19 February 2018 / Accepted: 19 February 2018 / Published: 1 March 2018
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Abstract

In this first issue of Neuroglia, it is highly appropriate that Professor Jorge A. Colombo at the Unit of Applied Neurobiology (UNA, CEMIC-CONICET) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, writes a perspective of idiosyncrasies of astrocytes in the human brain. Much of his work has been focused on the special case of interlaminar astrocytes, so-named because of their long straight processes that traverse the layers of the human cerebral cortex. Notably, interlaminar astrocytes are primate-specific and their evolutionary development is directly related to that of the columnar organization of the cerebral cortex in higher primates. The human brain also contains varicose projection astrocytes or polarized astrocytes which are absent in lower animals. In addition, classical protoplasmic astrocytes dwelling in the brains of humans are ≈15-times larger and immensely more complex than their rodent counterparts. Human astrocytes retain their peculiar morphology even after grafting into rodent brains; that is, they replace the host astrocytes and confer certain cognitive advantages into so-called ‘humanised’ chimeric mice. Recently, a number of innovative studies have highlighted the major differences between human and rodent astrocytes. Nonetheless, these differences are not widely recognized, and we hope that Jorge Colombo’s Perspective and our associated Commentary will help stimulate appreciation of human astrocytes by neuroscientists and glial cell biologists alike. View Full-Text
Keywords: astroglia; protoplasmic astrocytes; interlaminar astrocytes; varicose projection astrocytes; human brain; astroglial domains astroglia; protoplasmic astrocytes; interlaminar astrocytes; varicose projection astrocytes; human brain; astroglial domains
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Verkhratsky, A.; Bush, N.A.O.; Nedergaard, M.; Butt, A. The Special Case of Human Astrocytes. Neuroglia 2018, 1, 21-29.

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