Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Master Cells

Insight into how brain's chandelier cells develop and their role in neurological disorders

24 July 2020

Master Cells

In this section of brain tissue, there is just a single chandelier cell (red) in a crowd of other neurons (green), but it’s the one calling the shots and controlling the masses. Indeed, if you look closely, you can see the chandelier cell’s multitude of long, thin, branching arms (axons) – which incidentally give the cell its name – making contact with practically every other cell, enabling it to exert control. Evidence suggests dysfunction of these rare but powerful cells is linked to a range of important disorders including autism, schizophrenia and epilepsy, but the cells’ scarcity makes them difficult to study. Thankfully, newly developed labelling techniques are facilitating the identification and analysis of chandelier cells, shedding light on how they develop, how they establish their numerous interactions and dominance, and of course, how defects in their functioning leads to debilitating neurological diseases.

Written by Ruth Williams

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