PublicationsAstrocyte changes in the prefrontal cortex from aged non-suicidal depressed patients.
Glia alterations in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) have been postulated to play an important role in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders. Astroglia is the most abundant type of glial cells in the central nervous system. The expression levels of astrocyte markers (glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), synemin-a, synemin-b, vimentin, nestin) in isolated gray matter from postmortem ACC and DLPFC were determined to investigate the possible involvement of astrocytes in depression. Donors were aged non-suicidal subjects with bipolar disorder (BPD) or major depressive disorder (MDD), and matched controls. GFAP mRNA levels were significantly increased in the ACC of BPD patients. However, GFAP immunohistochemistry showed that the area fraction of GFAP immunoreactive
astrocytes was decreased in the ACC of BPD patients, while there were no changes in the cell density and integrated optical density (IOD), indicating that there might be a reduction of GFAP-positive astrocyte processes and remodeling of the astrocyte network in BPD. Furthermore, in controls, DLPFC GFAP mRNA levels were significantly lower with a time of death at daytime (08:01–20:00 h) compared to nighttime (20:01–08:00 h). In depression, such a diurnal pattern was not present. These findings in BPD and MDD subjects warrant further studies given the crucial roles of astrocytes in the central nervous system.