Astrocyte – Definition & Meaning

Astrocytes are a type of glial cell found in the central nervous system (CNS) of vertebrates. They are star-shaped cells that play a crucial role in the support and maintenance of neurons in the brain and spinal cord. In this article, we will explore the definition, meaning, and various associations of astrocytes.


Astrocytes are a type of glial cell that are characterized by their star-shaped appearance. They are the most abundant cell type in the central nervous system and are involved in a wide range of functions, including the regulation of neurotransmitter levels, the maintenance of the blood-brain barrier, and the formation of synapses.


The term astrocyte comes from the Greek words “astron” meaning star and “kytos” meaning cell. The first astrocytes were discovered in the late 19th century by Spanish neuroanatomist Santiago Ramón y Cajal, who described them as “star-shaped cells” due to their unique appearance.

Meaning in different dictionaries

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, astrocytes are “a star-shaped glial cell of the central nervous system that provides support for neurons and regulates the extracellular environment.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines astrocytes as “a type of glial cell found in the brain and spinal cord that provides structural support and helps to maintain the chemical environment of the nervous system.”


Astrocytes are associated with a wide range of functions in the central nervous system, including:

  • Providing structural support for neurons.
  • Regulating neurotransmitter levels.
  • Maintaining the blood-brain barrier.
  • Forming synapses.
  • Regulating cerebral blood flow.
  • Modulating synaptic transmission.
  • Regulating ion homeostasis.
  • Regulating the immune response in the CNS.


Some synonyms for astrocytes include:

  • Astroglia.
  • Astrocytic glia.
  • Astrocytic cells.
  • Astrocytoma cells.


As astrocytes are a type of cell, there are no antonyms for this term.

The Same Root Words as Astrocyte

The same root words as astrocyte include:

  • Astronomy.
  • Asteroid.
  • Asterisk.
  • Astronomer.

Example Sentences

  • Astrocytes play a crucial role in the regulation of neurotransmitter levels in the brain.
  • Damage to astrocytes can lead to disruption of the blood-brain barrier and the development of neurological disorders.
  • Astrocytes are involved in the formation and maintenance of synapses between neurons.
  • The activation of astrocytes can lead to changes in cerebral blood flow and the regulation of neural activity.
  • Astrocytes are a type of glial cell found in the central nervous system.
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