Depression as a microglial disease

Trends Neurosci. 2015 Oct;38(10):637-658. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2015.08.001.


Despite decades of intensive research, the biological mechanisms that causally underlie depression are still unclear, and therefore the development of novel effective antidepressant treatments is hindered. Recent studies indicate that impairment of the normal structure and function of microglia, caused by either intense inflammatory activation (e.g., following infections, trauma, stroke, short-term stress, autoimmune or neurodegenerative diseases) or by decline and senescence of these cells (e.g., during aging, Alzheimer's disease, or chronic unpredictable stress exposure), can lead to depression and associated impairments in neuroplasticity and neurogenesis. Accordingly, some forms of depression can be considered as a microglial disease (microgliopathy), which should be treated by a personalized medical approach using microglial inhibitors or stimulators depending on the microglial status of the depressed patient.

Keywords: Microglia; antidepressants; depression; inflammation; neurogenesis; stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Depressive Disorder / immunology*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy
  • Humans
  • Microglia / drug effects
  • Microglia / immunology*
  • Precision Medicine / methods


  • Antidepressive Agents