Emerging roles of astrocytes in neural circuit development

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2013 May;14(5):311-21. doi: 10.1038/nrn3484. Epub 2013 Apr 18.


Astrocytes are now emerging as key participants in many aspects of brain development, function and disease. In particular, new evidence shows that astrocytes powerfully control the formation, maturation, function and elimination of synapses through various secreted and contact-mediated signals. Astrocytes are also increasingly being implicated in the pathophysiology of many psychiatric and neurological disorders that result from synaptic defects. A better understanding of how astrocytes regulate neural circuit development and function in the healthy and diseased brain might lead to the development of therapeutic agents to treat these diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / physiology*
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Nerve Net / growth & development*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology