n-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids play a role in regulating the growth of the long bones. Fatty acid-binding proteins (FABPs) bind and transport hydrophobic long-chain fatty acids intracellularly, and epidermal-type FABP (E-FABP) has an affinity for n-3 fatty acids. This study aimed to clarify the localization of E-FABP in the growth plate of the mouse tibia. At the chondro-osseous junction (COJ) of the growth plate, E-FABP-immunoreactivity was exclusively localized in mononuclear, spindle-shaped cells with several long processes. These E-FABP-immunoreactive cells were identified as being septoclasts, i.e., cells that resorb uncalcified transverse septa. The processes of these immunoreactive septoclasts terminated between the longitudinal and transverse septa. E-FABP-immunoreactivity was found in the entire cytoplasm and on the mitochondrial outer membrane. In ontogeny, immunoreactive septoclasts were observed immediately after emergence of the primary ossifying center and were distributed not only at the COJ but also in the metaphysis near the COJ. The number of septoclasts increased at the postnatal age of 1 week (P1w)-P2w, and thereafter gradually decreased; and the cells became concentrated at the COJ after P3w-P4w. The immunoreactivity for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)β/δ was detected in these E-FABP-immunoreactive septoclasts. The present results suggest that fatty acids, preferably n-3 ones, are intracellularly transported by E-FABP to various targets, including mitochondria and nucleus, in which PPARβ/δ may play functional roles in the transcriptional regulation of genes involved in the endochondral ossification.
- Growth plate