Opera Medica et Physiologica

Pathobiology of Neurodegeneration: The Role for Astroglia

Author Affiliations

Alexei Verkhratsky 1, 2, 3
Robert Zorec 4, 5
Jose J. Rodriguez 3
Vladimir Parpura 6

1 Faculty of Life Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PT, UK;
2 University of Nizhny Novgorod, Nizhny Novgorod 603022, Russia;
3 Achucarro Center for Neuroscience, IKERBASQUE, Basque Foundation for Science, 48011 Bilbao, Spain & Department of Neurosciences, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU and CIBERNED, Leioa, Spain;
4 University of Ljubljana, Institute of Pathophysiology, Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology and Molecular Cell Physiology, Zaloska cesta 4; SI-1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia;
5 Celica, BIOMEDICAL, Technology Park 24, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia,
6 Department of Neurobiology, Civitan International Research Center and Center for Glial Biology in Medicine, Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, Atomic Force Microscopy & Nanotechnology Laboratories, 1719 6th Avenue South, CIRC 429, University of Alabama, Birmingham, AL 35294-0021, USA

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Abstract: 

The common denominator of neurodegenerative diseases, which mainly affect humans, is the progressive death of neural cells resulting in neurological and cognitive deficits. Astroglial cells are central elements of the homoeostasis, defence and regeneration of the central nervous system, and their malfunction or reactivity contribute to the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases. Pathological remodelling of astroglia in neurodegenerative context is multifaceted. Both astroglial atrophy with a loss of function and astroglial reactivity have been identified in virtually all forms of neurodegenerative disorders. Astroglia may represent a novel target for therapeutic strategies aimed at preventing and possibly curing neurodegenerative diseases.