Astrocytes in physiological aging and Alzheimer's disease

Academic Article


  • Astrocytes are fundamental for homoeostasis, defence and regeneration of the central nervous system. Loss of astroglial function and astroglial reactivity contributes to the aging of the brain and to neurodegenerative diseases. Changes in astroglia in aging and neurodegeneration are highly heterogeneous and region-specific. In animal models of Alzheimer's disease (AD) astrocytes undergo degeneration and atrophy at the early stages of pathological progression, which possibly may alter the homeostatic reserve of the brain and contribute to early cognitive deficits. At later stages of AD reactive astrocytes are associated with neurite plaques, the feature commonly found in animal models and in human diseased tissue. In animal models of the AD reactive astrogliosis develops in some (e.g. in the hippocampus) but not in all regions of the brain. For instance, in entorhinal and prefrontal cortices astrocytes do not mount gliotic response to emerging β-amyloid deposits. These deficits in reactivity coincide with higher vulnerability of these regions to AD-type pathology. Astroglial morphology and function can be regulated through environmental stimulation and/or medication suggesting that astrocytes can be regarded as a target for therapies aimed at the prevention and cure of neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Published In

  • Neuroscience  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rodríguez-Arellano JJ; Parpura V; Zorec R; Verkhratsky A
  • Start Page

  • 170
  • End Page

  • 182
  • Volume

  • 323