Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurological disorder affecting upper and lower motoneurons.
The two types, sporadic and familial differ in the aetiopathogenesis but have a similar neuropathology
characterized by oxidative stress, excitotoxicity and inflammation. The disease is also characterized by a non-cell
autonomous mechanism with astrocytes playing a central role by affecting synaptic glutamate, the blood-brain
barrier, and metabolic and trophic support. Two types of therapeutic approaches focusing on astrocytes are presented:
a) emerging molecular targets (potassium inward rectifier channels and aquaporins at the astrocyte endfeet,
and IP3 receptor signaling pathway), and b) cell therapy with stem cell - generated and transplanted astrocytes.
Keywords: Blood-brain barrier, astrocyte, endfeet, Kir4.1, AQP4, IP3 receptor pathway, stem cells, cell transplantation.
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