Gene expression of fatty acid transport and binding proteins in the blood-brain barrier and the cerebral cortex of the rat: differences across development and with different DHA brain status.

Research paper by Hélène H Pélerin, Mélanie M Jouin, Marie-Sylvie MS Lallemand, Jean-Marc JM Alessandri, Stephen C SC Cunnane, Bénédicte B Langelier, Philippe P Guesnet

Indexed on: 16 Aug '14Published on: 16 Aug '14Published in: Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes & Essential Fatty Acids (PLEFA)


Specific mechanisms for maintaining docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) concentration in brain cells but also transporting DHA from the blood across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) are not agreed upon. Our main objective was therefore to evaluate the level of gene expression of fatty acid transport and fatty acid binding proteins in the cerebral cortex and at the BBB level during the perinatal period of active brain DHA accretion, at weaning, and until the adult age. We measured by real time RT-PCR the mRNA expression of different isoforms of fatty acid transport proteins (FATPs), long-chain acyl-CoA synthetases (ACSLs), fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs) and the fatty acid transporter (FAT)/CD36 in cerebral cortex and isolated microvessels at embryonic day 18 (E18) and postnatal days 14, 21 and 60 (P14, P21 and P60, respectively) in rats receiving different n-3 PUFA dietary supplies (control, totally deficient or DHA-supplemented). In control rats, all the genes were expressed at the BBB level (P14 to P60), the mRNA levels of FABP5 and ACSL3 having the highest values. Age-dependent differences included a systematic decrease in the mRNA expressions between P14-P21 and P60 (2 to 3-fold), with FABP7 mRNA abundance being the most affected (10-fold). In the cerebral cortex, mRNA levels varied differently since FATP4, ACSL3 and ACSL6 and the three FABPs genes were highly expressed. There were no significant differences in the expression of the 10 genes studied in n-3 deficient or DHA-supplemented rats despite significant differences in their brain DHA content, suggesting that brain DHA uptake from the blood does not necessarily require specific transporters within cerebral endothelial cells and could, under these experimental conditions, be a simple passive diffusion process.