Neuroglia is critically important for controlling the brain homeostasis and for mounting the brain defence against pathological insults. Here, we overview recent data about the role of neuroglia in various types of neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, fronto-temporal dementia, Wernicke encephalopathy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and immunodeficiency virus-1-associated dementia). In all these forms of neurodegeneration, astroglia undergoes complex morphological and functional changes. The early and mid-term stages of neurodegenerative processes, and specifically of Alzheimer's disease, are associated with generalised atrophy of astroglia, whereas the later stages are characterised with an astrogliosis and microglial activation linked to neuropathological lesions such as senile plaques. Atrophic changes in astroglia may contribute to the initial cognitive deficits due to reduced glial synaptic coverage and decreased neuroprotection. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010.
- Alzheimer's disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Fronto-temporal dementia
- Immunodeficiency virus-1-associated dementia
- Parkinson's disease
- Wernicke encephalopathy