From pathophysiology to novel antidepressant drugs: glial contributions to the pathology and treatment of mood disorders

Biol Psychiatry. 2013 Jun 15;73(12):1172-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.03.032.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Communication / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Mood Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Mood Disorders / pathology*
  • Neuroglia / drug effects*
  • Neuroglia / physiology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology


  • Antidepressive Agents