Elucidating the mechanisms of neuronal injury is crucial for the development of spinal cord injury (SCI) treatments. Brain-type fatty acid–binding protein 7 (FABP7) is expressed in the adult rodent brain, especially in astrocytes, and has been reported to play a role in astrocyte function in various types of brain damage; however, its role after SCI has not been well studied. In this study, the authors evaluated the expression change of FABP7 after SCI using a mouse spinal cord compression model and observed the effect of FABP7 gene knockout on neuronal damage and functional recovery after SCI.
Female FABP7 knockout (KO) mice with a C57BL/6 background and their respective wild-type littermates were subjected to SCI with a vascular clip. The expression of FABP7, neuronal injury, and functional recovery after SCI were analyzed in both groups of mice.
Western blot analysis revealed upregulation of FABP7 in the wild-type mice, which reached its peak 14 days after SCI, with a significant difference in comparison to the control mice. Immunohistochemistry also showed upregulation of FABP7 at the same time points, mainly in proliferative astrocytes. The number of surviving ventral neurons in the FABP7-KO mice at 28 days after SCI was significantly lower than that observed in the wild-type mice. In addition, motor functional recovery in the FABP7-KO mice was significantly worse than that of the wild-type mice.
The findings of this study indicate that FABP7 could have a neuroprotective role that might be associated with modulation of astrocytes after SCI. FABP7 could potentially be a therapeutic target in the treatment of SCI.