Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 231–241

Targeted Activation of Astrocytes: A Potential Neuroprotective Strategy



Astrocytes are involved in many key physiological processes in the brain, including glutamatergic transmission, energy metabolism, and blood flow control. They become reactive in response to pathological situations, a response that involves well-described morphological alterations and less characterized functional changes. The functional consequences of astrocyte reactivity seem to depend on the molecular pathway involved and may result in the enhancement of several neuroprotective and neurotrophic functions. We propose that a selective and controlled activation of astrocytes may switch these highly pleiotropic cells into therapeutic agents to promote neuron survival and recovery. This may represent a potent therapeutic strategy for many brain diseases in which neurons would benefit from an increased support from activated astrocytes.


Reactive astrocytes Activation of astrocytes Brain diseases Therapeutic target Cytokines 



Alzheimer’s disease


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis




Ciliary neurotrophic factor


Cyclooxygenase 2


Glial fibrillary acidic protein


Fibroblast growth factor




Huntington’s disease


Insulin-like growth factor 1




Inducible nitric oxide synthase




Middle cerebral artery occlusion


Magnetic resonance imaging


Nerve growth factor


Nuclear factor-κ B




Positron emission tomography


Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3


Suppressor of cytokine signaling 3


Superoxide dismutase


Spinal cord injury


Transforming growth factor β


Tumor necrosis factor α


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CEA, IB2M, MIRCen, CNRS URA2210OrsayFrance
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyUCSF and VA Medical CenterSan FranciscoUSA

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