Central nervous system (CNS) astrocytes are glial cells performing crucial tasks encompassing energy metabolism, neurotransmission, ion and water stable levels, and immune defense and control local blood flow/oxygen levels. Arising from neural stem cells, astrocytes differentiate into subtypes that vary according to animal species. Human cerebral cortex astrocytes are sturdier and cytologically and functionally more complex, control wider domains, and spread calcium signals more quickly than their rodents’ counterparts. They actively partake in CNS homeostasis maintenance and functioning by teaming up with their client neurons, other glial cell types, and cerebrovascular cells. Alterations of astrocytes’ activities deeply impact on age-related chronic ailments like Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the commonest senile dementia; AD involves the growing accumulation of amyloid-β peptides (Aβs) and hyperphosphorylated Tau proteins the astrocytes, and neurons supply following the interaction of their calcium-sensing receptors (CaSRs) with exogenous Aβs. The activated Aβ∙CaSR signaling triggers a self-propagating mechanism that spreads the neuropathology among adjacent and far away astrocytes and their neuronal clients causing neurons’ death. CaSR antagonists or calcilytics suppress these noxious effects in vitro. Hence, calcilytics are potential therapeutics that could halt the spread of AD neuropathology and safeguard the patients’ neuronal viability, cognition, memory, and ultimately life.
Part of the book: Astrocyte