The Role of Astrocytes in CNS Inflammation

Trends Immunol. 2020 Sep;41(9):805-819. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2020 Aug 13.


Astrocytes are the most abundant cell type in the central nervous system (CNS), performing complex functions in health and disease. It is now clear that multiple astrocyte subsets or activation states (plastic phenotypes driven by intrinsic and extrinsic cues) can be identified, associated to specific genomic programs and functions. The characterization of these subsets and the mechanisms that control them may provide unique insights into the pathogenesis of neurologic diseases, and identify potential targets for therapeutic intervention. In this article, we provide an overview of the role of astrocytes in CNS inflammation, highlighting recent discoveries on astrocyte subsets and the mechanisms that control them.

Keywords: astrocyte subsets; inflammation; reactive astrocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Astrocytes* / cytology
  • Astrocytes* / immunology
  • Central Nervous System* / cytology
  • Central Nervous System* / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation* / immunology
  • Nervous System Diseases / immunology