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Identifying the Role of Astrocytes in Neuronal Synapse Loss and Repair in Neurodegenerative Disease

Award Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Awards (Cycle 1)
Focus Area Neurodegeneration

Project Description

We will address the role of astrocytes in neurodegeneration. Astrocytes have been traditionally understudied relative to the role of neurons. We will investigate how astrocytes regulate neuronal synapse formation and function from development to aging, how dysfunctional astrocytes contribute to neurodegenerative disease, and how astrocytes may be used to stimulate synaptic repair in disease.

Results & Resources

This project is investigating the role of astrocyte-secreted proteins in regulating neuronal synapses in the healthy brain and in neurodegeneration. The team identified mechanisms that regulate astrocyte expression of synapse-regulating factors in vivo; dysregulation of astrocyte-secreted proteins in neurological disorders; a role for astrocyte synapse-regulating factors in regulating dendritic spine stability after injury. Ongoing work is investigating the role of astrocyte-secreted factors in regulating the progression of synapse loss in Alzheimer’s disease.


Nicola Allen, PhD
Nicola Allen, PhD