Astrocyte Diversity: Current Insights and Future Directions

Thomas Westergard, Jeffrey D. Rothstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Astrocytes make up 20–40% of glial cells within the central nervous system (CNS) and provide several crucial functions, ranging from metabolic and structural support to regulation of synaptogenesis and synaptic transmission. Although these cells are morphologically and functionally complex, astrocytes have been historically regarded as homogenous cell populations and studied as one population of cells. Fortunately, recent evidence in RNA profiling and imaging data has begun to refute this view. These studies suggest heterogeneity of astrocytes across brain regions, differing in many aspects such as morphology, function, physiological properties, developmental origins, and response to disease. Increased understanding of astrocyte heterogeneity is critical for investigations into the function of astrocytes in the brain and neuro–glia interactions. Furthermore, insights into astrocyte heterogeneity can help better understand their role in neurological disorders and potentially produce novel approaches to treating these diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1298-1305
Number of pages8
JournalNeurochemical Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Astrocyte
  • Astrocyte diversity
  • Astrocyte heterogeneity
  • Development
  • Function
  • Morphology
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neurological disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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