Glia are cells that are found throughout the brain and also play a role in other parts of the central nervous system. They have a complex relationship to neurons, supporting them with nourishment, serving immune functions, and performing other essential tasks.
Glia do not conduct electrical signals like neurons do, but researchers are beginning to uncover ways in which glia communicate with other cells and make it possible for neurons to function.
Different types of glia include:
- Schwann cells
Some fibromyalgia research indicates that problems with glia may play a role in the condition, including disturbances in communication between glia and neurons, sustained activation of spinal cord glia, and abnormally shaped Schwann cells in the skin.
Glial research may help with treatments as well -- low-dose naltrexone, a drug that's showing promise as a fibromyalgia treatment in clinical trials, is believed to inhibit microglia activity in the central nervous system.