Glial Pathology in Major Psychiatric Disorders

  • David R. Cotter
  • Carmine M. Pariante
  • Grazyna Rajkowska
Part of the Neurobiological Foundation of Aberrant Behaviors book series (NFAB, volume 4)


Recent quantitative postmortem investigations of the cerebral cortex have demonstrated cortical glial cell loss and reduced density in subjects with major depression and bipolar disorder. There is also some evidence for a region-specific reductions in glial cell density in schizophrenia. These findings coincide with a reevaluation of the importance of glial cells in normal cortical function; in addition to their traditional roles in neuronal migration and inflammatory processes, glia are now accepted to have roles in providing trophic support to neurons, neuronal metabolism, and the formation of synapses and neurotransmission. Consequently, reduced cortical glial cell numbers could be responsible for some of the pathological changes in schizophrenia and depression including reduced neuronal size, reduced levels of synaptic proteins, and abnormalities of cortical neurotransmission. Additionally, as astrocytes provide the energy requirements of neurons, deficient astrocyte function could account for aspects of the functional magnetic imaging abnormalities found in these disorders. We discuss the possible basis of glial cell pathology in these disorders and suggest that elevated levels of glucocorticoids, due to illness-related stress or to hyperactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal may down-regulate glial activity and so predispose to, or exacerbate psychiatric illness.


Glial Cell Major Depressive Disorder Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein Mood Disorder Corticotropin Release Factor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Cotter
  • Carmine M. Pariante
  • Grazyna Rajkowska

There are no affiliations available

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