Astrocyte-expressed FABP7 regulates dendritic morphology and excitatory synaptic function of cortical neurons

Majid Ebrahimi, Yui Yamamoto, Kazem Sharifi, Hiroyuki Kida, Yoshiteru Kagawa, Yuki Yasumoto, Ariful Islam, Hirofumi Miyazaki, Chie Shimamoto, Motoko Maekawa, Dai Mitsushima, Takeo Yoshikawa, Yuji Owada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Fatty acid binding protein 7 (FABP7) expressed by astrocytes in developing and mature brains is involved in uptake and transportation of fatty acids, signal transduction, and gene transcription. Fabp7 knockout (Fabp7 KO) mice show behavioral phenotypes reminiscent of human neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. However, direct evidence showing how FABP7 deficiency in astrocytes leads to altered brain function is lacking. Here, we examined neuronal dendritic morphology and synaptic plasticity in medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of Fabp7 KO mice and in primary cortical neuronal cultures. Golgi staining of cortical pyramidal neurons in Fabp7 KO mice revealed aberrant dendritic morphology and decreased spine density compared with those in wild-type (WT) mice. Aberrant dendritic morphology was also observed in primary cortical neurons co-cultured with FABP7-deficient astrocytes and neurons cultured in Fabp7 KO astrocyte-conditioned medium. Excitatory synapse number was decreased in mPFC of Fabp7 KO mice and in neurons co-cultured with Fabp7 KO astrocytes. Accordingly, whole-cell voltage-clamp recording in brain slices from pyramidal cells in the mPFC showed that both amplitude and frequency of action potential-independent miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) were decreased in Fabp7 KO mice. Moreover, transplantation of WT astrocytes into the mPFC of Fabp7 KO mice partially attenuated behavioral impairments. Collectively, these results suggest that astrocytic FABP7 is important for dendritic arbor growth, neuronal excitatory synapse formation, and synaptic transmission, and provide new insights linking FABP7, lipid homeostasis, and neuropsychiatric disorders, leading to novel therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-62
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jan 1


  • Fatty acid binding protein
  • Gene knockout mouse
  • Glia
  • MEPSCs
  • MPFC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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