By the year 2020, depression will be the 2nd most common health problem in the world. Current medications to treat depression are effective in less than 50% of patients. There is the need for novel treatments for depression to address the high rates of resistance to current treatment and the chronic residual symptoms in many patients treated for depression. The heterogeneity of major depressive disorder suggests that multiple neurocircuits and neurochemicals are involved in its pathogenesis thus, finding an alternative to neurotransmitter agonist- or antagonist-based treatments offers an important new approach. Cellular therapy is an emerging treatment strategy for multiple diseases, including depression. Based upon their in vivo function as "nurse cells" within the testis and the documented viability, efficacy, and safety of Sertoli cells transplanted into multiple tissues, including brain, the potential for these cells to provide a neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and trophic environment for neurons should be considered. It is proposed that the combination of self-protective, immunoregulatory and trophic properties of Sertoli cells may confer a unique potential for depression treatment and avoid many of the risks and challenges associated with stem cell therapies. At the very least, studies of the effects of Sertoli cell transplantation will add substantially to our understanding of the cellular and molecular processes that underlie depression.
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