Astrocytes: The Housekeepers and Guardians of the CNS

Alexei Verkhratsky, Vladimir Parpura, Baoman Li, Caterina Scuderi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Astroglia are a diverse group of cells in the central nervous system. They are of the ectodermal, neuroepithelial origin and vary in morphology and function, yet, they can be collectively defined as cells having principle function to maintain homeostasis of the central nervous system at all levels of organisation, including homeostasis of ions, pH and neurotransmitters; supplying neurones with metabolic substrates; supporting oligodendrocytes and axons; regulating synaptogenesis, neurogenesis, and formation and maintenance of the blood-brain barrier; contributing to operation of the glymphatic system; and regulation of systemic homeostasis being central chemosensors for oxygen, CO2 and Na+. Their basic physiological features show a lack of electrical excitability (inapt to produce action potentials), but display instead a rather active excitability based on variations in cytosolic concentrations of Ca2+ and Na+. It is expression of neurotransmitter receptors, pumps and transporters at their plasmalemma, along with transports on the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria that exquisitely regulate the cytosolic levels of these ions, the fluctuation of which underlies most, if not all, astroglial homeostatic functions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAstrocytes in Psychiatric Disorders
EditorsBaoman Li, Vladimir Parpura, Alexei Verkhratsky, Caterina Scuderi
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer Cham
Number of pages33
ISBN (Electronic)9783030773755
ISBN (Print)9783030773748
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Neurobiology
ISSN (Print)2190-5215
ISSN (Electronic)2190-5223


  • astroglia
  • brain homoeostasis
  • Ca signalling
  • Ion channels
  • Na signalling
  • neurotransmitter receptors
  • SLC transporters


Dive into the research topics of 'Astrocytes: The Housekeepers and Guardians of the CNS'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this