The Cajal school and the physiological role of astrocytes: A way of thinking

Marta Navarrete, Alfonso Araque

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Cajal is widely recognized by the scientific community for his important contributions to our knowledge of the neuronal organization of the nervous system. His studies on neuroglial cells are less recognized, yet they are no less relevant to our current understanding of the cellular bases of brain structure. Two pioneering studies published a century ago -"Something about the physiological significance of neuroglia" (Ramón y Cajal, 1897) and "A contribution to the understanding of neuroglia in the human brain" (Ramón y Cajal, 1913)-focused on glial cells and their role in brain physiology. Novel findings obtained using state-of-the-art and sophisticated technologies largely confirm many of the groundbreaking hypotheses proposed by Cajal related to the structural-functional properties of neuroglia. Here we propose to the reader a journey guided by the ideas of Cajal through the recent findings on the functional significance of astrocytes, the most abundant neuroglial cell type in the nervous system. Astrocyte-neuron interaction, which represents an emerging field in current neuroscience with important implications for our understanding of the cellular processes underlying brain function, has its roots in many of the original concepts proposed by Cajal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number33
JournalFrontiers in Neuroanatomy
Issue numberMAY
StatePublished - May 19 2014


  • Astrocytes
  • Cajal
  • Gliotransmission
  • Neuron-glia communication
  • Tripartite synapses


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