A glial cell that touches the heart

glial cell heart
Credit: Sara Björk

A new type of cell has been identified in the heart of several organisms, from the zebrafish to mouse and human hearts.

This new type of cell, called “nexus-glia” by its discoverers, as it forms a net around the heart, not only appears to possess some characteristics from these cells, but it is also related to producing the right heartbeats.

Glial cells are the ugly sibling of neurons in the central nervous system, or at least they were, because recently new interesting roles for these cells are being discovered which show that they are not just there to feed, supply, and support neurons. What’s more, findings like this of the nexus-glia show that glial cells might not be restricted to the central nervous system (brain and spine) after all.

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