Targeting astrocytes in major depression

Expert Rev Neurother. 2015;15(11):1299-306. doi: 10.1586/14737175.2015.1095094. Epub 2015 Oct 15.


Astrocytes represent a highly heterogeneous population of neural cells primarily responsible for the homeostasis of the CNS. Astrocytes express multiple receptors for neurotransmitters, including the serotonin 5-HT2B receptors and interact with neurones at the synapse. Astroglia contribute to neurological diseases through homeostatic response, neuroprotection and reactivity. In major depression, astrocytes show signs of degeneration and are decreased in numbers, which may lead to a misbalance in neurotransmission and aberrant synaptic connectivity. In this review, we summarize astroglia-specific effects of major antidepressants and outline future strategies for astroglia-specific therapy in neuropsychiatric disorders.

Keywords: astrocytes; major depression; mechanism of drug action; neuropsychiatric diseases; serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Astrocytes / drug effects
  • Astrocytes / pathology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • Synapses / pathology
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects


  • Antidepressive Agents