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See detailTranscriptional and epigenetic mechanisms underlying astrocyte identity
Pavlou, Maria Angeliki UL; Grandbarbe, Luc UL; Buckley, Noel et al

in Progress in Neurobiology (2018)

Astrocytes play a significant role in coordinating neural development and provide critical support for the function of the CNS. They possess important adaptation capacities that range from their ... [more ▼]

Astrocytes play a significant role in coordinating neural development and provide critical support for the function of the CNS. They possess important adaptation capacities that range from their transition towards reactive astrocytes to their ability to undergo reprogramming, thereby revealing their potential to retain latent features of neural progenitor cells. We propose that the mechanisms underlying reactive astrogliosis or astrocyte reprogramming provide an opportunity for initiating neuronal regeneration, a process that is notably reduced in the mammalian nervous system throughout evolution. Conversely, this plasticity may also affect normal astrocytic functions resulting in pathologies ranging from neurodevelopmental disorders to neurodegenerative diseases and brain tumors. We postulate that epigenetic mechanisms linking extrinsic cues and intrinsic transcriptional programs are key factors to maintain astrocyte identity and function, and critically, to control the balance of regenerative and degenerative activity. Here, we will review the main evidences supporting this concept. We propose that unravelling the epigenetic and transcriptional mechanisms underlying the acquisition of astrocyte identity and plasticity, as well as understanding how these processes are modulated by the local microenvironment under specific threatening or pathological conditions, may pave the way to new therapeutic avenues for several neurological disorders including neurodegenerative diseases and brain tumors of astrocytic lineage. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Neurogenic Potential of Astrocytes Is Regulated by Inflammatory Signals
Michelucci, Alessandro UL; Bithell, Angela; Burney, Matthew et al

in Molecular Neurobiology (2015)

Although the adult brain contains neural stem cells (NSCs) that generate new neurons throughout life, these astrocyte-like populations are restricted to two discrete niches. Despite their terminally ... [more ▼]

Although the adult brain contains neural stem cells (NSCs) that generate new neurons throughout life, these astrocyte-like populations are restricted to two discrete niches. Despite their terminally differentiated phenotype, adult parenchymal astrocytes can re-acquire NSC-like characteristics following injury, and as such, these ‘reactive’ astrocytes offer an alternative source of cells for central nervous system (CNS) repair following injury or disease. At present, the mechanisms that regulate the potential of different types of astrocytes are poorly understood. We used in vitro and ex vivo astrocytes to identify candidate pathways important for regulation of astrocyte potential. Using in vitro neural progenitor cell (NPC)-derived astrocytes, we found that exposure of more lineage-restricted astrocytes to either tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) (via nuclear factor-κB (NFκB)) or the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) inhibitor, noggin, led to re-acquisition of NPC properties accompanied by transcriptomic and epigenetic changes consistent with a more neurogenic, NPC-like state. Comparative analyses of microarray data from in vitro-derived and ex vivo postnatal parenchymal astrocytes identified several common pathways and upstream regulators associated with inflammation (including transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ)) and cell cycle control (including TP53) as candidate regulators of astrocyte phenotype and potential. We propose that inflammatory signalling may control the normal, progressive restriction in potential of differentiating astrocytes as well as under reactive conditions and represent future targets for therapies to harness the latent neurogenic capacity of parenchymal astrocytes. [less ▲]

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