The past decade or so has witnessed a rekindling of interest in glia requiring a re-evaluation of the early descriptions of astrocytes as merely support cells, and microglia as adopting either a resting state or an activated state in a binary fashion. We now know that both cell types contribute to the optimal functioning of neurons in the healthy brain, and that altered function of either cell impacts on neuronal function and consequently cognitive function. The evidence indicates that both astrocytic and microglial phenotype change with age and that the shift from the resting state is associated with deterioration in synaptic function. In this review, we consider the rapidly-expanding array of functions attributed to these cells and focus on evaluating the changes in cell activation that accompany ageing.
Keywords: Astrocytes; CD200; T cells; ageing; immune function; microglia.