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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2017 Jan;18(1):31-41. doi: 10.1038/nrn.2016.159. Epub 2016 Dec 1.

Functional diversity of astrocytes in neural circuit regulation.

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Department of Pediatrics, Neurological Surgery and Edythe Broad Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regeneration Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.
Department of Paediatrics and Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 OQQ, UK.


Although it is well established that all brain regions contain various neuronal subtypes with different functions, astrocytes have traditionally been thought to be homogenous. However, recent evidence has shown that astrocytes in the mammalian CNS display distinct inter- and intra-regional features, as well as functional diversity. In the CNS, astrocyte processes fill the local environment in non-overlapping domains. Therefore, a potential advantage of region-specified astrocytes might be their capacity to regulate local development or optimize local neural circuit function. An overview of the regional heterogeneity of neuron-astrocyte interactions indicates novel ways in which they could regulate normal neurological function and shows how they might become dysregulated in disease.

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