- Astrocytes are a type of the CNS macroglial cells (others are Oligodendrocytes, Ependymal cells, and Radial glia)
- They can be identified by their peculiar star-shaped morphology with many processes extending from the soma.
- They also express intermediate filament protein glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP).
- Overexpression of GFAP in astrocytes has been reported in several pathological conditions.
- It has also been shown that the astrocytic processes (known as endfeet) covers ≈ 99% of the cerebral vascular surface (Mathiisen et al., 2010).
Functions: Astrocytes have been shown to play important role in
- Maintenance of brain homeostasis
- Integrity and functionality of blood-brain barrier
- Maintaining the tight junction between endothelial cells
- Regulation of synapse function, and synaptic remodeling
Mathiisen et al., 2010. The perivascular astroglial sheath provides a complete covering of the brain microvessels: an electron microscopic 3D reconstruction. Glia. 58(9), 1094-103. PMID-20468051; Full Text Links: wiley, utexas