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J Neurosci. 2003 Jul 23;23(16):6404-12.

Functions of fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-2 and FGF-5 in astroglial differentiation and blood-brain barrier permeability: evidence from mouse mutants.

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Department of Neuroanatomy, IZN, University of Heidelberg, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


Multiple evidence suggests that fibroblast growth factors (FGFs), most prominently FGF-2, affect astroglial proliferation, maturation, and transition to a reactive phenotype in vitro, and after exogenous administration, in vivo. Whether this reflects a physiological role of endogenous FGF is unknown. Using FGF-2 and FGF-5 single- and double mutant mice we show now a region-specific reduction of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), but not of S100 in gray matter astrocytes. FGF-2 is apparently the major regulator of GFAP, because in mice deficient for FGF-2, GFAP is distinctly reduced in cortex and striatum, whereas in FGF-5-/- animals only a reduction in the midbrain tegmentum can be observed. In FGF-2-/-/FGF-5-/- double mutant animals, GFAP-immunoreactivity is reduced in all three brain regions. Cortical astrocytes cultured from FGF-2-/-/FGF-5-/- double mutant mice revealed reduced levels of GFAP, but not S100 as compared with wild-type littermates. This phenotype could be rescued by exogenous FGF-2 but not FGF-5 (10 ng/ml). Electron microscopy revealed reduced levels of intermediate filaments in perivascular astroglial endfeet. This defect was accompanied by enhanced permeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), as detected by albumin extravasation. Levels of the tight junction proteins Occludin and ZO-1 were reduced in blood vessels of FGF-2-/-/FGF-5-/- double mutant mice as compared with wild-type littermates. Our data support the notion that endogenous FGF-2 and FGF-5 regulate GFAP expression in a region-specific manner. The observed defect in astroglial differentiation is accompanied by a defect in BBB function arguing for an indirect or direct role of FGFs in the regulation of BBB permeability in vivo.

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