Fibroblast growth factor 9 is a novel modulator of negative affect

Aurbach EL, Inui EG, Turner CA, Hagenauer MH, Prater KE, Li JZ, Absher D, Shah N, Blandino P Jr, Bunney WE, Myers RM, Barchas JD, Schatzberg AF, Watson SJ Jr, Akil H
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015; 112(38):11953-8.


Both gene expression profiling in postmortem human brain and studies using animal models have implicated the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family in affect regulation and suggest a potential role in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD). FGF2, the most widely characterized family member, is down-regulated in the depressed brain and plays a protective role in rodent models of affective disorders. By contrast, using three microarray analyses followed by quantitative RT-PCR confirmation, we show that FGF9 expression is up-regulated in the hippocampus of individuals with MDD, and that FGF9 expression is inversely related to the expression of FGF2. Because little is known about FGF9's function in emotion regulation, we used animal models to shed light on its potential role in affective function. We found that chronic social defeat stress, an animal model recapitulating some aspects of MDD, leads to a significant increase in hippocampal FGF9 expression, paralleling the elevations seen in postmortem human brain tissue. Chronic intracerebroventricular administration of FGF9 increased both anxiety- and depression-like behaviors. In contrast, knocking down FGF9 expression in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus using a lentiviral vector produced a decrease in FGF9 expression and ameliorated anxiety-like behavior. Collectively, these results suggest that high levels of hippocampal FGF9 play an important role in the development or expression of mood and anxiety disorders. We propose that the relative levels of FGF9 in relation to other members of the FGF family may prove key to understanding vulnerability or resilience in affective disorders.