Astrocytes and endoplasmic reticulum stress: A bridge between obesity and neurodegenerative diseases

Prog Neurobiol. 2017 Nov;158:45-68. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2017.08.001. Epub 2017 Aug 10.


Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a subcellular organelle involved in protein folding and processing. ER stress constitutes a cellular process characterized by accumulation of misfolded proteins, impaired lipid metabolism and induction of inflammatory responses. ER stress has been suggested to be involved in several human pathologies, including neurodegenerative diseases and obesity. Different studies have shown that both neurodegenerative diseases and obesity trigger similar cellular responses to ER stress. Moreover, both diseases are assessed in astrocytes as evidences suggest these cells as key regulators of brain homeostasis. However, the exact contributions to the effects of ER stress in astrocytes in the various neurodegenerative diseases and its relation with obesity are not well known. Here, we discuss recent advances in the understanding of molecular mechanisms that regulate ER stress-related disorders in astrocytes such as obesity and neurodegeneration. Moreover, we outline the correlation between the activated proteins of the unfolded protein response (UPR) in these pathological conditions in order to identify possible therapeutic targets for ER stress in astrocytes. We show that ER stress in astrocytes shares UPR activation pathways during both obesity and neurodegenerative diseases, demonstrating that UPR related proteins like ER chaperone GRP 78/Bip, PERK pathway and other exogenous molecules ameliorate UPR response and promote neuroprotection.

Keywords: Astrocytes; ER stress; Endoplasmic reticulum; Neurodegenerative diseases; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / physiopathology*