Astrocytes were historically classified as supporting cells; however, it is becoming increasingly clear that they actively contribute to neuronal functioning under normal and pathological conditions. As interest in the contribution of neuroinflammation to Alzheimer's disease (AD) progression has grown, manipulating glial cells has become an attractive target for future therapies. Astrocytes have largely been under-represented in studies that assess the role of glia in these processes, despite substantial evidence of astrogliosis in AD. The actual role of astrocytes in AD remains elusive, as they seem to adopt different functions dependent on disease progression and the extent of accompanying parenchymal inflammation. Astrocytes may contribute to the clearance of amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) and restrict the spread of inflammation in the brain. Conversely, they may contribute to neurodegeneration in AD by releasing neurotoxins and neglecting crucial metabolic roles. The present review summarizes current evidence on the multi-faceted functions of astrocytes in AD, highlighting the significant scope available for future therapeutic targets.

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