Astrocytes and brain injury

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2003 Feb;23(2):137-49. doi: 10.1097/01.WCB.0000044631.80210.3C.


Astrocytes are the most numerous cell type in the central nervous system. They provide structural, trophic, and metabolic support to neurons and modulate synaptic activity. Accordingly, impairment in these astrocyte functions during brain ischemia and other insults can critically influence neuron survival. Astrocyte functions that are known to influence neuronal survival include glutamate uptake, glutamate release, free radical scavenging, water transport, and the production of cytokines and nitric oxide. Long-term recovery after brain injury, through neurite outgrowth, synaptic plasticity, or neuron regeneration, is influenced by astrocyte surface molecule expression and trophic factor release. In addition, the death or survival of astrocytes themselves may affect the ultimate clinical outcome and rehabilitation through effects on neurogenesis and synaptic reorganization.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / physiology*
  • Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Brain Edema / physiopathology
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism
  • Gap Junctions / physiology
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Nerve Regeneration
  • Neurites / physiology
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Potassium