The Diversity of Astrocyte Activation during Multiple Sclerosis: Potential Cellular Targets for Novel Disease Modifying Therapeutics

Konstantinos Barmpagiannos, Paschalis Theotokis, Steven Petratos, Maurice Pagnin, Ofira Einstein, Evangelia Kesidou, Marina Boziki, Artemios Artemiadis, Christos Bakirtzis, Nikolaos Grigoriadis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Neuroglial cells, and especially astrocytes, constitute the most varied group of central nervous system (CNS) cells, displaying substantial diversity and plasticity during development and in disease states. The morphological changes exhibited by astrocytes during the acute and chronic stages following CNS injury can be characterized more precisely as a dynamic continuum of astrocytic reactivity. Different subpopulations of reactive astrocytes may be ascribed to stages of degenerative progression through their direct pathogenic influence upon neurons, neuroglia, the blood-brain barrier, and infiltrating immune cells. Multiple sclerosis (MS) constitutes an autoimmune demyelinating disease of the CNS. Despite the previously held notion that reactive astrocytes purely form the structured glial scar in MS plaques, their continued multifaceted participation in neuroinflammatory outcomes and oligodendrocyte and neuronal function during chronicity, suggest that they may be an integral cell type that can govern the pathophysiology of MS. From a therapeutic-oriented perspective, astrocytes could serve as key players to limit MS progression, once the integral astrocyte–MS relationship is accurately identified. This review aims toward delineating the current knowledge, which is mainly focused on immunomodulatory therapies of the relapsing–remitting form, while shedding light on uncharted approaches of astrocyte-specific therapies that could constitute novel, innovative applications once the role of specific subgroups in disease pathogenesis is clarified.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1585
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • astrocytes
  • disease-modulating therapies
  • functional subsets
  • multiple sclerosis
  • multiple sclerosis therapies
  • myelination
  • reactive astrocytes
  • reactivity
  • transcriptional subsets


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