Neurons vs Neuroglia
The nervous system is made up of two major types of cells known as neurons and neuroglia. However, many have an understanding that there are only neurons in the nervous system, and the supporting cells are forgotten. Therefore, it would be ideal to go through some important information about these two cell types together as in this article.
Neurons are the basic structural and functional units of the nervous system, which are readily excitable electrically to transmit and process information inside the bodies of animals. The signalling or signal passing is carried out through both electrical and chemical means. It is important to know the typical structure of a neuron, as it is a drastically different cell from the other cells found in animals.
There is a cell body known as soma, which contains Nissl’s granules, bears the nucleus in the centre, and dendrites at one side. Usually, the axon starts at the opposite end to the dendrites, and the axon is a long and thin structure sometimes covered with myelin sheaths with Schwann cells in the middle. At the end of the axon, another highly branched dendrites complex is present. A signal is passed through the axon as an electrical pulse, which has been facilitated by created voltage gradients through intracellular and extracellular ion pumps of sodium, potassium, calcium, and chloride. The signal is passed from one neuron to the other via chemical signalling synapses. Neural networks connect neurons with each other and tissues. It is important to know that the axons covered with myelin sheaths transmit nerve pulses at a higher rate than the normal.
Neuroglia are commonly known as Glial cells or sometimes as glia. These non-neuron cells of the nervous system are important to maintain the homeostasis as well as to form myelin. Neuroglia are also important for the protection of neurones in the brain, and there are almost the same number of neuroglia cells as the number of neuron cells in the human brain.
The structure of this cell is like a spider or an octopus, but there is no axon as in neurons. Scientists have identified four main functions that glial cells are responsible including keeping of neurons at the proper location, supplying oxygen and nutrients for neurons, providing insulation to stop short circuits with other neurons, and guarding neurons being attacked by pathogens. In addition, it is believed that glial cells play a role in neurotransmission but no mechanism proposed so far. One of the important features of neuroglia is that the ability to undergo cell division with age. When these basic functions are considered, it is clear that neuroglia cells play a vital role in the nervous system, those have not been frequently discussed among people.
What is the difference between Neurons and Neuroglia?
• Neurons are the structural and functional units of the nervous system whereas neuroglia are the supporting cells.
• Neurons pass nerve pulses in the form of both electrical and chemical but neuroglia do not pass these pulses.
• Neurons contain Nissl’s granules but not in Neuroglia.
• Neuron has an axon but, not in neuroglia.
• Neuroglia form myelin but those are present and functional in the axon of neurons.
• Neuroglia form packaging media between nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and but not the neurons.
• Neuroglia are able to undergo through cell division with age, but most of the neurons keep to the original form until the death of the animal as those are not renewable.