Enteric glial cells: New players in Parkinson's disease?

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Lewy pathology has been described in neurons of the enteric nervous system in nearly all Parkinson's disease (PD) patients at autopsy. The enteric nervous system not only contains a variety of functionally distinct enteric neurons but also harbors a prominent component of glial cells, the so-called enteric glial cells, which, like astrocytes of the central nervous system, contribute to support, protect, and maintain the neural network. A growing body of evidence supports a role for enteric glial cells in the pathophysiology of gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and chronic constipation. We have recently shown that enteric glial cell dysfunction occurs in PD. In the present review, we discuss the possible implications of enteric glia in PD-related gut dysfunction as well as in disease initiation and development. © 2014 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society

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