Fatty acid binding protein 7 (Fabp7) is a versatile protein that is linked to glial differentiation and proliferation, neurogenesis, and multiple mental health disorders. Recent microarray studies identified a robust decrease in Fabp7 expression in key brain regions of the postpartum rodents. Given its diverse functions, Fabp7 could play a critical role in sculpting the maternal brain and promoting the maternal phenotype. The present study aimed at investigating the expression profile of Fabp7 across the postpartum CNS. Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) analysis showed that Fabp7 mRNA was consistently down-regulated across the postpartum brain. Of the 9 maternal care-related regions tested, seven exhibited significant decreases in Fabp7 in postpartum (relative to virgin) females, including medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), nucleus accumbens (NA), lateral septum (LS), bed nucleus of stria terminalis dorsal (BnSTd), paraventricular nucleus (PVN), lateral hypothalamus (LH), and basolateral and central amygdala (BLA/CeA). For both ventral tegmental area (VTA) and medial preoptic area (MPOA) levels of Fabp7 were lower in mothers, but levels of changes did not reach significance. Confocal microscopy revealed that protein expression of Fabp7 in the LS paralleled mRNA findings. Specifically, the caudal LS exhibited a significant reduction in Fabp7 immunoreactivity, while decreases in medial LS were just above significance. Double fluorescent immunolabeling confirmed the astrocytic phenotype of Fabp7-expressing cells. Collectively, this research demonstrates a broad and marked reduction in Fabp7 expression in the postpartum brain, suggesting that down-regulation of Fabp7 may serve as a hallmark of the postpartum brain and contribute to the maternal phenotype.
- Gene expression
- Maternal phenotype
- Postpartum brain
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience