Astrocytes are the most abundant glial cell population in the central nervous system (CNS). In the healthy brain and spinal cord, the major function of astrocytes includes the formation and maintenance of the blood brain barrier (BBB), and the supply of structural support and nourishment to neurons. This article will discuss the role of astrocytes in multiple sclerosis (MS) and other inflammatory autoimmune diseases of the CNS. We will address the capacity of astrocytes to serve as immunocompetent cells, their role in major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II restricted antigen (Ag) presentation, and their ability to express costimulatory molecules. We will also discuss astrocytes as the major CNS producers of several chemokines and cytokines, and their relevance to neurological disease.
- antigen presentation
- co-stimulatory molecules
- major histocompatibility complex
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)