Cholesterol--Making or Breaking the Synapse

Science  09 Nov 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5545, pp. 1296-1297
DOI: 10.1126/science.1066724

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Synapses are regions where neurons meet and communicate. But how is their formation regulated in the developing and adult brain? As Smith and Barres explain in their Perspective, the answer could not be simpler. It turns out that, at least in the culture dish, a type of glial cell called an astrocyte produces the molecule cholesterol, which is taken up by neurons and then directs formation of synapses perhaps by regulating vital signaling pathways ( Mauch et al.).