Targeted Activation of Astrocytes: A Potential Neuroprotective Strategy

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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.

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