Glia in neurodegeneration: The housekeeper, the defender and the perpetrator

Carrie Sheeler, Juao Guilherme Rosa, Austin Ferro, Brian D McAdams, Ella Borgenheimer, Marija Cvetanovic

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Over the past decade, research has unveiled the intimate relationship between neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. Microglia and astrocytes react to brain insult by setting up a multimodal inflammatory state and act as the primary defenders and executioners of neuroinflammatory structural and functional changes. Microglia and astrocytes also play critical roles in the maintenance of normal brain function. This intricate balance of homeostatic and neuroinflammatory functions can influence the onset and the course of neurodegenerative diseases. The emergent role of the microglial-astrocytic axis in neurodegenerative disease presents many druggable targets that may have broad therapeutic benefits across neurodegenerative disease. Here, we provide a brief review of the basal function of both microglia and astrocytes, how they are changed in disease states, the significant differences between mouse and human glia, and use of human induced pluripotent stem cells derived from patients to study cell autonomous changes in human astrocytes and microglia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9188
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research is funded by M.C., R01 NS197387; HHS | National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Astrocytes
  • Human
  • Microglia
  • Mouse
  • Neurodegeneration


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