Reactive astrocytes in Alzheimer's disease: A double-edged sword

Heejung Chun, C. Justin Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a chronic and fatal disease, in which neuronal damage at its late stage cannot be easily reversed. Because AD progression is caused by multiple factors including diverse cellular processes, studies on AD pathogenesis at the molecular and cellular level are challenging. Based on the lessons from unsuccessful neuron-focused research for an AD cure, non-cell autonomous mechanisms including brain inflammation and reactive astrocytes have recently been in the spotlight as potential therapeutic targets for AD. Studies have shown that reactive astrocytes are not only the result of inflammatory defense reactions, but also an active catabolic decomposer that acts by taking up amyloid beta toxins. Here, we give an overview of the characteristics of reactive astrocytes as pathological features of AD. Reactive astrocytes exert biphasic effects, that is, beneficial or detrimental depending on multiple factors. Many efforts have been put forth for defining and characterizing molecular signatures for the beneficial and detrimental reactive astrocytes. In the foreseeable future, manipulating and targeting each established molecular signature should have profound therapeutic implications for the treatment of AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-52
Number of pages9
JournalNeuroscience Research
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Brain inflammation
  • Reactive astrocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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