An astrocyte is a glial cell in the central nervous system.
Structure of astrocytes
Astrocytes are star-shaped and may have very many short cytoplasmic extensions, or long less branched extensions.
Role of astrocytes
The main role of astrocytes is to provide support and structure for the central nervous system. They also have important functional roles, however. In particular they contribute to gliosis, an effect through which damage to the nervous system heals. They are also involved in synapses to pick up neurotransmitters, or in capillaries to provide the blood-brain barrier. They also play a role in transporting molecules and supplying lactate to neurones.
Astrocytes are star-shaped in structure. © Karin Pierre, Institute of physiology, UNIL, Lausanne, European Dana Alliance for the Brain (EDAB)