The Francis Crick Institute
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The role of astrocytes in prion-like mechanisms of neurodegeneration.

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-03-31, 10:14 authored by Phillip Smethurst, Hannah Franklin, Benjamin E Clarke, Katie Sidle, Rickie Patani
Accumulating evidence suggests that neurodegenerative diseases are not merely neuronal in nature but comprise multicellular involvement, with astrocytes emerging as key players. The pathomechanisms of several neurodegenerative diseases involve the deposition of misfolded protein aggregates in neurons that have characteristic prion-like behaviours such as template-directed seeding, intercellular propagation, distinct conformational strains and protein-mediated toxicity. The role of astrocytes in dealing with these pathological prion-like protein aggregates and whether their responses either protect from or conspire with the disease process is currently unclear. Here we review the existing literature implicating astrocytes in multiple neurodegenerative proteinopathies with a focus on prion-like behaviour in this context.