CRISPRi screens in human iPSC-derived astrocytes elucidate regulators of distinct inflammatory reactive states

Nat Neurosci. 2022 Nov;25(11):1528-1542. doi: 10.1038/s41593-022-01180-9. Epub 2022 Oct 27.


Astrocytes become reactive in response to insults to the central nervous system by adopting context-specific cellular signatures and outputs, but a systematic understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms is lacking. In this study, we developed CRISPR interference screening in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived astrocytes coupled to single-cell transcriptomics to systematically interrogate cytokine-induced inflammatory astrocyte reactivity. We found that autocrine-paracrine IL-6 and interferon signaling downstream of canonical NF-κB activation drove two distinct inflammatory reactive signatures, one promoted by STAT3 and the other inhibited by STAT3. These signatures overlapped with those observed in other experimental contexts, including mouse models, and their markers were upregulated in human brains in Alzheimer's disease and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. Furthermore, we validated that markers of these signatures were regulated by STAT3 in vivo using a mouse model of neuroinflammation. These results and the platform that we established have the potential to guide the development of therapeutics to selectively modulate different aspects of inflammatory astrocyte reactivity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease*
  • Astrocytes
  • Cytokines
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells*
  • Inflammation
  • Signal Transduction


  • Cytokines