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The Art in Science

Product Image Guardian Angels

Guardian Angels

Rafi Kohen, Graduate Student, Neuroscience (Giger Laboratory), University of Michigan Medical School

This picture depicts two different cell types found in the central nervous system of mice and humans. Astrocytes (cyan) are multifunctional glial cells that metabolically and physically support the neurons (magenta). Astrocytes are fewer in number than neurons; however, they give neurons the gentle touch they need to survive, grow, and maintain activity. When the central nervous system is injured, astrocytes form barriers called glial scars, which mediate an inflammatory reaction that alleviates the damage and aids in the clean-up of debris. In summary, astrocytes are the guardian angels of neurons, fighting head-on against insults and diseases.