Astrocytes are the most abundant cell population within the CNS of mammals. Their glial role is perfectly performed in the healthy CNS as they support functions of neurons. The omnipresence of astrocytes throughout the white and grey matter and their intimate relation with blood vessels of the CNS, as well as numerous immunity-related actions that these cells are capable of, imply that astrocytes should have a prominent role in neuroinflammatory disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS). The role of astrocytes in MS is rather ambiguous, as they have the capacity to both stimulate and restrain neuroinflammation and tissue destruction. In this paper we present some of the proved and the proposed functions of astrocytes in neuroinflammation and discuss the effect of MS therapeutics on astrocytes. © 2011 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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