In psychiatric disorders, the effect of genetic and environmental factors may converge on molecular pathways and brain circuits related to growth factor functioning. In this review, we describe how disturbances in fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) and their receptors influence behavior by affecting brain development. Recently, several studies reported associations of members of the FGF family with psychiatric disorders. FGFs are key candidates to modulate the impact of environmental factors, such as stress. Mutant mice for FGF receptor 1 show schizophrenia-like behaviors that are related to general loss of neurons and postnatal glia dysfunction. Mice lacking FGF2, a FGFR1 ligand, show similar reductions in brain volume and hyperactivity, as well as increased anxiety behaviors. FGFR2 and FGF17 are involved in the development of frontal brain regions and impairments in cognitive and social behaviors, respectively. Moreover, treatment with FGF2 was beneficial for depressive and cognitive measures in several animal studies and one human study. These findings indicate the importance of the FGF system with respect to developing novel etiology-directed treatments for psychopathology.
- Fibroblast Growth Factors