Until recently, despite being the most prominent cell type in the human brain, research on astrocytes has been overshadowed by neurons. Once thought to only provide structural support to neurons it has become clear that astrocytes are a vastly heterogenous population of cells with varied functions and roles to match.

    The study of astrocytes and their introduction into neurological disease modelling is becoming increasingly important, as their impact on neurons and surrounding cell types can be significant. Culturing neurons with astrocyte improves synaptogenesis, neuronal maturation and neuronal survival. However, astrocytes containing genetic mutations can have a detrimental impact on co-cultured, previously healthy, neurons.

    An overview of astrocytic function, development and role in a number of diseases can be found in a previous blog post. This post provides a more detailed account of the role of astrocytes in Rett Syndrome.

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