Reduced blood-brain barrier expression of fatty acid-binding protein 5 is associated with increased vulnerability of APP/PS1 mice to cognitive deficits from low omega-3 fatty acid diets

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Lower levels of the cognitively beneficial docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are often observed in Alzheimer's disease (AD) brains. Brain DHA levels are regulated by the blood-brain barrier (BBB) transport of plasma-derived DHA, a process facilitated by fatty acid-binding protein 5 (FABP5). This study reports a 42.1 ± 12.6% decrease in the BBB transport of 14C-DHA in 8-month-old AD transgenic mice (APPswe,PSEN1∆E9) relative to wild-type mice, associated with a 34.5 ± 6.7% reduction in FABP5 expression in isolated brain capillaries of AD mice. Furthermore, short-term spatial and recognition memory deficits were observed in AD mice on a 6-month n-3 fatty acid-depleted diet, but not in AD mice on control diet. This intervention led to a dramatic reduction (41.5 ± 11.9%) of brain DHA levels in AD mice. This study demonstrates FABP5 deficiency and impaired DHA transport at the BBB are associated with increased vulnerability to cognitive deficits in mice fed an n-3 fatty acid-depleted diet, in line with our previous studies demonstrating a crucial role of FABP5 in BBB transport of DHA and cognitive function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-92
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • blood-brain barrier
  • cognitive function
  • docosahexaenoic acid
  • fatty acid-binding protein
  • omega-3 fatty acids

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