Regulation of Neurotrophic Factors and Energy Metabolism by Antidepressants in Astrocytes
There is growing evidence that astrocytes are involved in the neuropathology of major depression. In particular, decreases in glial cell density observed in the cerebral cortex of individuals with major depressive disorder are accompanied by a reduction of several astrocytic markers suggesting that astrocyte dysfunction may contribute to the pathophysiology of major depression. In rodents, glial loss in the prefrontal cortex is sufficient to induce depressive-like behaviors and antidepressant treatment prevents the stress-induced reduction of astrocyte number in the hippocampus. Collectively, these data support the existence of a link between astrocyte loss or dysfunction, depressive-like behavior and antidepressant treatment. Astrocytes are increasingly recognized to play important roles in neuronal development, neurotransmission, synaptic plasticity and maintenance of brain homeostasis. It is also well established that astrocytes provide trophic, structural, and metabolic support to neurons. In this article, we review evidence that antidepressants regulate energy metabolism and neurotrophic factor expression with particular emphasis on studies in astrocytes. These observations support a role for astrocytes as new targets for antidepressants. The contribution of changes in astrocyte glucose metabolism and neurotrophic factor expression to the therapeutic effects of antidepressants remains to be established.