Astroglial calcium signaling in aging and alzheimer’s disease

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Astrocytes are the homeostatic and protective cells of the central nervous system (CNS). In neurological diseases, astrocytes undergo complex changes, which are subclassified into (1) reactive astrogliosis, an evolutionary conserved defensive rearrangement of cellular phenotype aimed at neuroprotection; (2) pathological remodeling, when astrocytes acquire new features driving pathology; and (3) astrodegeneration, which is manifested by astroglial atrophy and loss of homeostatic functions. In aging brains as well as in the brains affected by Alzheimer’s disease (AD), astrocytes acquire both atrophic and reactive phenotypes in a region-and disease-stage-dependent manner. Prevalence of atrophy overreactivity, observed in certain brain regions and in terminal stages of the disease, arguably facilitates the development of neurological deficits. Astrocytes exhibit ionic excitability mediated by changes in intracellular concentration of ions, most importantly of Ca2+ and Na+, with intracellular ion dynamics triggered by the activity of neural networks. AD astrocytes associated with senile plaques demonstrate Ca2+ hyperactivity in the form of aberrant Ca2+ oscillations and pathological long-range Ca2+ waves. Astroglial Ca2+ signaling originating from Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum is a key factor in initiating astrogliotic response; deficient Ca2+ signaling toolkits observed in entorhinal and prefrontal cortices of AD model animals may account for vulnerability of these regions to the pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera035188
JournalCold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology
Issue number7
Early online date20 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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