Beyond their long-recognized support functions, astrocytes are active partners of neurons in processing information, synaptic integration, and production of trophic factors, just to name a few. Both microglia and astrocytes produce and secrete a number of cytokines, modulating and integrating the communication between hematogenous cells and resident cells of the central nervous system (CNS). This review will address (1) the functions of astrocytes in the normal brain and (2) their role in surveying noxious stimuli within the brain, with particular emphasis on astrocytic responses to damage or disease, a process referred to as reactive astrogliosis/astrocytosis. In addition, the review will discuss (3) the role of astrocytes as an abundant cellular source for immunoregulatory (cytokines) factors, and their fundamental roles in the type and extent of CNS immune and inflammatory responses. (4) Recent experimental evidence on the role of astroglia in the etiology of neurological diseases will be highlighted, along with (5) the role of oxidative stressors generated within astrocytes in this process.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology