Functional immune cell-astrocyte interactions

J Exp Med. 2021 Sep 6;218(9):e20202715. doi: 10.1084/jem.20202715. Epub 2021 Jul 22.


Astrocytes are abundant glial cells in the central nervous system (CNS) that control multiple aspects of health and disease. Through their interactions with components of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), astrocytes not only regulate BBB function, they also sense molecules produced by peripheral immune cells, including cytokines. Here, we review the interactions between immune cells and astrocytes and their roles in health and neurological diseases, with a special focus on multiple sclerosis (MS). We highlight known pathways that participate in astrocyte crosstalk with microglia, NK cells, T cells, and other cell types; their contribution to the pathogenesis of neurological diseases; and their potential value as therapeutic targets.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Astrocytes / cytology
  • Astrocytes / physiology*
  • Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Cell Communication
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / physiology*
  • Microglia / cytology*
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism