Astrocytes are the most populous glial cells in the central nervous system (CNS). They are essential to CNS physiology and play important roles in the maintenance of homeostasis, development of synaptic plasticity, and neuroprotection. Nevertheless, under the influence of certain factors, astrocytes may also exert detrimental effects through a process of reactive astrogliosis. Previous studies have shown that astrocytes have more than one type of polarization. Two types have been extensively researched. One is a damaging change that occurs under inflammation and has been termed A1 astrocyte, while the other is a restorative change that occurs under ischemic induction and was termed A2 astrocyte. Researchers are now increasingly paying attention to the role of astrocytes in spinal cord injury (SCI), degenerative diseases, chronic pain, neurological tumors, and other CNS disorders. In this review, we discuss (a) the characteristics of polarized astrocytes, (b) the relationship between astrocyte polarization and SCI, and (c) new implications of reactive astrogliosis for future SCI therapies.
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