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Trends Neurosci. 2003 Oct;26(10):520-2.

New roles for astrocytes (stars at last).

Author information

  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Washington, 1959 NE Pacific, Room RR650, Box 356465, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. bransom@u.washington.edu


Astrocytes have been presumed to be uninteresting for the better part of a century. Recent findings suggest unexpected new functions for these cells and highlight the importance of viewing most brain activities as a collaboration between astrocytes and neurons. Astrocytes have been implicated in dynamic regulation of neuron production, synaptic network formation, neuron electrical activity and specific neurological diseases. We are only at the threshold of understanding fully the nature and consequences of these new astrocyte functions, and there is still much to be learned about the older and better-known roles. But now, at last, astrocytes have our attention.

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