Deletion of fibroblast growth factor 22 (FGF22) causes a depression-like phenotype in adult mice

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Specific growth factors induce formation and differentiation of excitatory and inhibitory synapses, and are essential for brain development and function. Fibroblast growth factor 22 (FGF22) is important for specifying excitatory synapses during development, including in the hippocampus. Mice with a genetic deletion of FGF22 (FGF22KO) during development subsequently have fewer hippocampal excitatory synapses in adulthood. As a result, FGF22KO mice are resistant to epileptic seizure induction. In addition to playing a key role in learning, the hippocampus is known to mediate mood and anxiety. Here, we explored whether loss of FGF22 alters affective, anxiety or social cognitive behaviors in mice. We found that relative to control mice, FGF22KO mice display longer duration of floating and decreased latency to float in the forced swim test, increased immobility in the tail suspension test, and decreased preference for sucrose in the sucrose preference test, which are all suggestive of a depressive-like phenotype. No differences were observed between control and FGF22KO mice in other behavioral assays, including motor, anxiety, or social cognitive tests. These results suggest a novel role for FGF22 specifically in affective behaviors.

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