Journal of Biological Physics vol:35 issue:4 pages:337-346
Selective motor neuron death during amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a non-cell autonomous process in which non-neuronal cells induce and/or contribute to the disease process. The non-neuronal cells that are clearly involved in the pathogenesis of the disease are the surrounding astrocytes. Under normal conditions, astrocytes remove glutamate from the synaptic cleft and release trophic factors. In addition, these cells determine the functional characteristics of motor neurons. Recent evidence suggests that activation of astrocytes in a degenerative disease like ALS disturbs the crosstalk between astrocytes and motor neurons, which could contribute to and/or accelerate selective motor neuron death. These new insights may contribute to the development of therapeutic approaches to slow this fatal neurodegenerative disease.