Several structural and cellular changes, including marked glial anomalies, have been observed in association with major depressive disorder. Here we review these cellular alterations and highlight the importance of glial cell pathology, especially astroglial dysfunction, in the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders with a particular interest in major depressive disorder. The functional role of astrocytes in glutamate uptake and glutamate/glutamine cycling is discussed, as is the deleterious effects of chronic stress on glial cell function. Lastly, we discuss the effect of antidepressants on glial cell function and the possibility of targeting glial cells in the quest to develop novel therapeutics.
Copyright © 2013 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.