Astroglial correlates of neuropsychiatric disease: From astrocytopathy to astrogliosis

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2018 Dec 20;87(Pt A):126-146. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2017.10.002. Epub 2017 Oct 6.


Complex roles for astrocytes in health and disease continue to emerge, highlighting this class of cells as integral to function and dysfunction of the nervous system. In particular, escalating evidence strongly implicates a range of changes in astrocyte structure and function associated with neuropsychiatric diseases including major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and addiction. These changes can range from astrocytopathy, degeneration, and loss of function, to astrogliosis and hypertrophy, and can be either adaptive or maladaptive. Evidence from the literature indicates a myriad of changes observed in astrocytes from both human postmortem studies as well as preclinical animal models, including changes in expression of glial fibrillary protein, as well as changes in astrocyte morphology and astrocyte-mediated regulation of synaptic function. In this review, we seek to provide a comprehensive assessment of these findings and consequently evidence for common themes regarding adaptations in astrocytes associated with neuropsychiatric disease. While results are mixed across conditions and models, general findings indicate decreased astrocyte cellular features and gene expression in depression, chronic stress and anxiety, but increased inflammation in schizophrenia. Changes also vary widely in response to different drugs of abuse, with evidence reflective of features of astrocytopathy to astrogliosis, varying across drug classes, route of administration and length of withdrawal.

Keywords: Addiction; Astrocyte; Depression; GFAP; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Astrocytes / pathology*
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / pathology*


  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein