Astrocyte physiopathology: At the crossroads of intercellular networking, inflammation and cell death

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

90 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience have led to the awareness that we should revise our traditional mode of thinking and studying the CNS, i.e. by isolating the privileged network of "intelligent" synaptic contacts. We may instead need to contemplate all the variegate communications occurring between the different neural cell types, and centrally involving the astrocytes. Basically, it appears that a single astrocyte should be considered as a core that receives and integrates information from thousands of synapses, other glial cells and the blood vessels. In turn, it generates complex outputs that control the neural circuitry and coordinate it with the local microcirculation. Astrocytes thus emerge as the possible fulcrum of the functional homeostasis of the healthy CNS. Yet, evidence indicates that the bridging properties of the astrocytes can change in parallel with, or as a result of, the morphological, biochemical and functional alterations these cells undergo upon injury or disease. As a consequence, they have the potential to transform from supportive friends and interactive partners for neurons into noxious foes. In this review, we summarize the currently available knowledge on the contribution of astrocytes to the functioning of the CNS and what goes wrong in various pathological conditions, with a particular focus on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Alzheimer's Disease and ischemia. The observations described convincingly demonstrate that the development and progression of several neurological disorders involve the de-regulation of a finely tuned interplay between multiple cell populations. Thus, it seems that a better understanding of the mechanisms governing the integrated communication and detrimental responses of the astrocytes as well as their impact towards the homeostasis and performance of the CNS is fundamental to open novel therapeutic perspectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-120
Number of pages35
JournalProgress in Neurobiology
Volume130
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2015

Fingerprint

Astrocytes
Cell Death
Inflammation
Homeostasis
Communication
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Microcirculation
Neurosciences
Nervous System Diseases
Neuroglia
Synapses
Blood Vessels
Alzheimer Disease
Ischemia
Neurons
Wounds and Injuries
Population

Keywords

  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Astrocytes
  • Cell death
  • Ischemia
  • Neuroinflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Astrocyte physiopathology : At the crossroads of intercellular networking, inflammation and cell death. / Rossi, Daniela.

In: Progress in Neurobiology, Vol. 130, 01.07.2015, p. 86-120.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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