• 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

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