We would like to present the abstract of our keynote speaker – Urtė Neniškytė – who currently works as Marie Sklodowska Curie Experienced Researcher at the Department of Neurobiology and Biophysics of Life Science Center at Vilnius University, Lithuania.
The final stage of brain development is associated with the generation and maturation of neuronal synapses. However, the same period is also associated with a peak in synapse elimination — a process known as synaptic pruning — that has been proposed to be crucial for the maturation of remaining synaptic connections. Recent studies have pointed to a key role for glial cells in synaptic pruning in various parts of the nervous system and have identified a set of critical signalling pathways between glia and neurons. At the same time, brain imaging and post-mortem anatomical studies suggest that insufficient or excessive synaptic pruning may underlie several neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism, schizophrenia and epilepsy. I will present current data on the mechanisms of glial-cell-dependent synaptic pruning and outline their potential contribution to neurodevelopmental disorders.