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    Astroglia or astrocytes, the most abundant cells in the brain, are interposed between neuronal synapses and microvasculature in the brain gray matter. They play a pivotal role in brain metabolism as well as in the regulation of cerebral blood flow, taking advantage of their unique anatomical location. In particular, the astroglial cellular metabolic compartment exerts supportive roles in dedicating neurons to the generation of action potentials and protects them against oxidative stress associated with their high energy consumption. An impairment of normal astroglial function, therefore, can lead to numerous neurological disorders including stroke, neurodegenerative diseases, and neuroimmunological diseases, in which metabolic derangements accelerate neuronal damage. The neurovascular unit (NVU), the major components of which include neurons, microvessels, and astroglia, is a conceptual framework that was originally used to better understand the pathophysiology of cerebral ischemia. At present, the NVU is a tool for understanding normal brain physiology as well as the pathophysiology of numerous neurological disorders. The metabolic responses of astroglia in the NVU can be either protective or deleterious. This review focuses on three major metabolic compartments: (i) glucose and lactate; (ii) fatty acid and ketone bodies; and (iii) D- and L-serine. Both the beneficial and the detrimental roles of compartmentalization between neurons and astroglia will be discussed. A better understanding of the astroglial metabolic response in the NVU is expected to lead to the development of novel therapeutic strategies for diverse neurological diseases. © 2020 The Author. Neuropathology published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Japanese Society of Neuropathology.


    Shinichi Takahashi. Metabolic compartmentalization between astroglia and neurons in physiological and pathophysiological conditions of the neurovascular unit. Neuropathology : official journal of the Japanese Society of Neuropathology. 2020 Apr;40(2):121-137

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    PMID: 32037635

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