The next SISSA Colloquium is scheduled for October 3rd at 16:00 in room 128-129 and will feature a lecture by Alexei Verkhratsky, from the University of Manchester, titled "Astroglia in ageing and neurodegeneration."
Ageing is associated with morphological and functional remodelling of astrocytes with a prevalence of morphological atrophy and loss of function, not of the widely popularised 'inflammation'. In particular ageing is associated with (i) decrease in astroglial synaptic coverage; (ii) deficits in glutamate and potassium clearance; (iii) reduced astroglial synthesis of synaptogenic factors such as cholesterol; (iv) decrease in aquaporin 4 channels in astroglial endfeet with subsequent decline in the glymphatic clearance; (v) decrease in astroglial metabolic support through the lactate shuttle; (vi) decreased adult neurogenesis resulting from diminished proliferative capacity of radial stem astrocytes; (vii) decline in the astroglial-vascular coupling and deficient blood-brain barrier and (viii) decrease in astroglial ability to mount reactive astrogliosis. Decrease in reactive capabilities of astroglia as well as degeneration off dystrophy of microglia are permissive for age-dependent neurodegenerative diseases. Neuroglial morphology and function can be influenced and improved by lifestyle interventions such as intellectual engagement, social interactions physical exercise, caloric restriction, and healthy diet. These modifications of lifestyle are paramount for cognitive longevity.
Alexei Verkhratsky, MD, PhD, DSc, serves as a Professor of Neurophysiology in the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester, UK. An internationally acclaimed scholar in cellular neurophysiology, he's revered for his extensive contributions to the physiology and pathophysiology of neuroglia. Notably, Verkhratsky recently proposed an innovative hypothesis pinpointing astroglial atrophy and functional loss as key determinants of cognitive aging and susceptibility to neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. Through a series of widely cited papers and textbooks, he has set forth the foundational principles of glial physiology and pathophysiology, which have profoundly shaped this fast-evolving field of neuroscience. He holds memberships in several prestigious European academies, including the Academia Europaea and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.