Neurons are the basic unit of the nervous system. They are responsible for transmitting electrical signals throughout the body.

Glial cells (neuroglia) are non-neuronal cells that support neurons. They provide nutrients, remove waste products, and protect neurons from damage.

Both these cells are in brain, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system.

Difference between Neuron and Neuroglia (Glial Cells)



Structural and functional units of nervous system

non-neuronal cells that support neurons

Function: Responsible for transmission of nerve impulses between central nervous system and different parts of the body

Support neurons by providing nutrients, positioning the neuron, regulate their activity by controlling neurotransmitter release, removing waste products, and protecting neurons from damage.

Responsible for synaptic interactions and electrical signaling,

do not participate directly in synaptic interactions and electrical signaling, 

Generates action potential and chemical synapse.

No action potential and chemical synapse but has resting potential.

Number: 86.1 ± 8.1 billion neurons*

~84.6 ± 9.8 billion glial cells

Neurons cannot divide once differentiated, lack centrioles.

Glial cells can divide by mitosis even after differentiation.

Structure: All neurons have three different parts –

dendrites, cell body, and axon.

Dendrites receive messages from another neuron.

Cell body has a nucleus and other organelles, maintains structure, and provide energy and transfer signals from dendrites to axon.  

Axon passes the impulse to another neuron.

They have a fibrous appearance due to thick bundles of cytoplasmic filaments.


Types: Unipolar, bipolar, multipolar, and pseudounipolar

Astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, microglia, ependymal cells, and satellite cells

*Herculano‐Houzel, S. (2014). The glia/neuron ratio: how it varies uniformly across brain structures and species and what that means for brain physiology and evolution. Glia, 62(9), 1377-1391

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