Glial cells have long been viewed as a passive framework for neurons but in the meanwhile were shown to play a much more active role in brain function and development. Several reviews have described the function of glia in the insect embryo. The focus of this review is the role of glial cells in the development and function of the normal and diseased adult brain. In different insect species, a considerable variety of central nervous system glia has been described indicating adaptation to different functional requirements. In the development of the adult visual and olfactory system, glial cells guide incoming axons acting as intermediate targets. Glia are part of the insect blood-brain barrier, provide nourishment for neurons, and help to regulate the extracellular concentration of ions and neurotransmitters. To fulfill these tasks insect glial cells, like vertebrate glia, interact with each other and with neurons, thus influencing neural activity. The examples presented suggest that crosstalk between all brain cells is necessary not only to develop and maintain the complex insect brain but also to endow it with the capacity to respond and adapt to the changing environment.
- Adult insect brain
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