Astrocytes are major glial cells that play critical roles in brain homeostasis. Abnormalities in astrocytic functions can lead to brain disorders. Astrocytes also respond to injury and disease through gliosis and immune activation, which can be both protective and detrimental. Thus, it is essential to elucidate the function of astrocytes in order to understand the physiology of the brain to develop therapeutic strategies against brain diseases. Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) is a major second messenger that triggers various downstream cellular machinery in a wide variety of cells. The functions of astrocytes have also been suggested as being regulated by cAMP. Here, we summarize the possible roles of cAMP signaling in regulating the functions of astrocytes. Specifically, we introduce the ways in which cAMP pathways are involved in astrocyte functions, including (1) energy supply, (2) maintenance of the extracellular environment, (3) immune response, and (4) a potential role as a provider of trophic factors, and we discuss how these cAMP-regulated processes can affect brain functions in health and disease.
Keywords: adenylyl cyclase; astrocyte; cAMP; glycogenolysis; lactate shuttle.