Molecular basis of astrocyte diversity and morphology across the CNS in health and disease

Science. 2022 Nov 4;378(6619):eadc9020. doi: 10.1126/science.adc9020. Epub 2022 Nov 4.


Astrocytes, a type of glia, are abundant and morphologically complex cells. Here, we report astrocyte molecular profiles, diversity, and morphology across the mouse central nervous system (CNS). We identified shared and region-specific astrocytic genes and functions and explored the cellular origins of their regional diversity. We identified gene networks correlated with astrocyte morphology, several of which unexpectedly contained Alzheimer's disease (AD) risk genes. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated reduction of candidate genes reduced astrocyte morphological complexity and resulted in cognitive deficits. The same genes were down-regulated in human AD, in an AD mouse model that displayed reduced astrocyte morphology, and in other human brain disorders. We thus provide comprehensive molecular data on astrocyte diversity and mechanisms across the CNS and on the molecular basis of astrocyte morphology in health and disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease* / pathology
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes* / classification
  • Astrocytes* / metabolism
  • Astrocytes* / ultrastructure
  • Central Nervous System* / cytology
  • Central Nervous System* / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Transcriptome*