Increasingly, abnormalities of glial cell function have been implicated in pathological studies of the major mental illnesses (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression). In a recent proteomic study, four isoforms of astrocytic glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) were decreased in one or more of these diseases. In the current study, we sought to determine the immunohistochemical localization of phosphorylated GFAP (pGFAP) in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus and to describe possible disease-related changes in the distribution of pGFAP containing astrocytes. In the prefrontal cortex, interlaminar astrocytes in layer I and stellate astrocytes in layers II and VI were labeled. Labeled cells were also present adjacent to blood vessels in the gyral white matter and in underlying white matter generally. In the hippocampus, labeled cells were present in the polymorphic layer of the dentate gyrus. In the prefrontal cortex, schizophrenia and major depression were characterized by decreased labeling of astrocytes adjacent to blood vessels. There were no significant differences between the diagnostic groups in the other prefrontal layers or in the hippocampus. These results suggest that reduced numbers or functional regulation of pGFAP containing astrocytes occurs in schizophrenia and major depression. The mechanism by which this deficit occurs is not known, but it may adversely effect the regulation of neuronal metabolism, communication, and response to injury.
- Bipolar disorder
- Major depression
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Behavioral Neuroscience