Central nervous system histology

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Central nervous system histology

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A study was conducted to determine the different cell types and their functions in the central nervous system. One cell was identified using a special stain called glial fibrillary acid proteins (GFAP). These cells were found to have long foot processes. Which of the following is a function of the cell described?  

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The central nervous system or CNS consists of the cerebellumcerebrumbrain stem, and spinal cord.

The neuron is the basic working unit of the nervous system.

And the neuroglia or glial cells are the non-neuronal cells that support and protect the nervous system.

The central neuroglia includes astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, ependymal cells, and microglia.

The peripheral neuroglia includes Schwann cells, satellite cells, and a number of cells associated with specific organs.

Macroscopically the CNS is made of white matter and grey matter.

The difference in appearance is from the lipid-rich myelin sheaths that cover the axons present in white matter.

Whereas the grey matter consists mostly of neuron cell bodies, dendrites, astrocytes, and microglial cells.

In this high power image of white matter from the spinal cord, the axons are surrounded by clear white space, which is where the myelin was present before the tissue was processed to create this slide.

The outermost portion of the cerebrum and cerebellum consist of grey matter, with their white matter present mainly in the deeper regions of the brain.

One the other hand, the spinal cord has the opposite arrangement, with white matter mainly in the periphery and grey matter mostly located closer to the center, forming an “H” or butterfly-shaped appearance when looking at a cross-section of the spinal cord.


The central nervous system (CNS) is composed of the brain and spinal cord. The brain is enveloped by three layers of meninges, consisting of connective tissue and blood vessels. Beneath the meninges is the pia mater, a thin layer of connective tissue that supports and protects the brain's delicate nerve cells. The arachnoid mater, a web-like sheath, surrounds the pia mater.

The CNS consists of two major types of cells: neurons and glial cells. Neurons are responsible for transmitting electrical signals throughout the body. Glial cells of the CNS include astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, ependymal cells, and microglia. Glial cells support and protect neurons, provide nutrients, and remove waste products from their vicinity.


  1. "Histology. A Text and Atlas" Wolters Kluwer (2018)
  2. "Wheater's Functional Histology" Churchill Livingstone (2013)
  3. "Junqueira's Basic Histology: Text and Atlas, Fourteenth Edition" McGraw-Hill Education / Medical (2015)
  4. "Robbins Basic Pathology" Elsevier (2017)
  5. "Diagnostic Immunohistochemistry" Elsevier (2021)
  6. "Cytology" Saunders (2013)
  7. "Neuron-Glia Interactions in Homeostasis and Degeneration" Comprehensive Human Physiology (1996)
  8. "Nervous System" Pathologic Basis of Veterinary Disease (2017)

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