Uncovering Novel Roles of Nonneuronal Cells in Body Weight Homeostasis and Obesity

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Abstract

Glial cells, which constitute more than 50% of the mass of the central nervous system and greatly outnumber neurons, are at the vanguard of neuroendocrine research in metabolic control and obesity. Historically relegated to roles of structural support and protection, diverse functions have been gradually attributed to this heterogeneous class of cells with their protagonism in crescendo in all areas of neuroscience during the past decade. However, this dramatic increase in attention bestowed upon glial cells has also emphasized our vast lack of knowledge concerning many aspects of their physiological functions, let alone their participation in numerous pathologies. This minireview focuses on the recent advances in our understanding of how glial cells participate in the physiological regulation of appetite and systemic metabolism as well as their role in the pathophysiological response to poor nutrition and secondary complications associated with obesity. Moreover, we highlight some of the existing lagoons of knowledge in this increasingly important area of investigation.

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