Reactive astrocytes as potential manipulation targets in novel cell replacement therapy of Parkinson's disease

Liang Wei Chen*, Kin Lam YUNG, Ying Shing Chan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Parkinson' disease (PD) is a most common and debilitating degenerative disease resulted from massive loss of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta, which is characterized by severe motor symptoms of tremor, bradykinesia, rigidity and postural instability. Protection of nigral dopamine neurons from progressive degenerative death and cell replacement of novel dopamine neurons are hopeful strategies against PD in humans. The reactive astrocytes or functional activation of astrocytes abundantly occurred in brain insults including trauma, ischemia, and 6-OHDA or MPTP-treated PD animal models. Although they were traditionally assumed to impede neuronal regeneration by forming glial scars, growing evidence has indicated that reactive astrocytes do offer crucial benefits in functional recovery of brain injuries. The reactive astrocytes can produce various neurotrophic factors for neuron survival, synthesize extracellular substrates for axonal outgrowth and synaptogenesis, act as scavengers for free radical and excess glutamate, and promote neurogenesis of neural progenitor cells in the adult brains. We thereafter hypothesize that reactive astrocytes may also play important roles in the protection of nigral dopamine neurons or transplanted dopamine cells through their neurotrophic functions and active interaction with dopamine neurons or neural progenitor cells. Future approaches deserve to target on neurotrophic functions of reactive astrocytes in the basal ganglia and interventions to facilitate survival and axonal regeneration of dopamine neurons or differentiation of dopamine progenitor cells. Novel pharmaceutical and cell replacement strategies will hopefully be developed by potential manipulation of reactive astrocytes in the basal ganglia in prevention and treatment of Parkinson's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-833
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Drug Targets
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cell replacement therapy
  • Neuroprotection
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Reactive astrocytes


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