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The adult brain contains neuronal, multipotent stem cells. In two neurogenic regions of the adult brain, hippocampus and olfactory system, new neurons are generated from these stem cells. From transplantation studies and other investigations it is known that the cellular microenvironment provides the neurogenic permissiveness and determines the development of a mature new neuron from a stem or progenitor cell. Thus, the key question is, what defines a neurogenic region as neurogenic, if it is not the presence of neural stem cells alone. The activity-dependent regulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis represents a physiologic and positive modulation of neurogenic permissiveness in the adult brain. Activity-dependent regulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis occurs on multiple steps and is not an on/off phenomenon. The different l...
The hippocampus as one region with ongoing neurogenesis throughout life contributes to the formation of long-term memory and has also been implicated in the pathology of major depression. Studies suggest that depression might be due to decreased levels of serotonin and reduced neurogenesis in the adult brain and that the beneficial effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors would require adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Here, I investigated how modulation of serotonergic neurotransmission by acute and chronic treatment with the antidepressant fluoxetine, and selective serotonin receptor agonists and antagonists in adult mice influences precursor cell activity during development. I focused on 5-HT1a and 5-HT2 receptors as major mediators of serotonin action. The present findings suggest that an opposed action of 5-HT1a and 5-HT2c...
The effect of physical activity and enriched environment on cell genesis in the cerebral cortex of adult mice were investigated. It is well known that living under the conditions of an enriched environment and physical activity both enhance the generation of new neurons in the adult murine hippocampus. To label proliferating cells mice were injected with bromodesoxyuridine (BrdU). The number of BrdU incorporating cells in different regions and layers of the cerebral cortex was determined 1 day and 4 weeks after BrdU administration. To characterize cortical BrdU+ cells phenotypically immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy were used. Adult-generated cortical cells were glial cells. None of all the examined cortical BrdU+ cells showed immunoreactivity for NeuN (expressed in mature neurons) unambiguously indicating that the genera...
The neurosphere assay and the adherent monolayer culture system are valuable tools to determine the potential (proliferation or differentiation) of adult neural stem cells in vitro. These assays can be used to compare the precursor potential of cells isolated from genetically different or differentially treated animals to determine the effects of exogenous factors on neural precursor cell proliferation and differentiation and to generate neural precursor cell lines that can be assayed over continuous passages. The neurosphere assay is traditionally used for the post-hoc identification of stem cells, primarily due to the lack of definitive markers with which they can be isolated from primary tissue and has the major advantage of giving a quick estimate of precursor cell numbers in brain tissue derived from individual animals. Adherent m...
The dentate gyrus is part of the hippocampal memory system and special in that it generates new neurons throughout life. Here we discuss the question of what the functional role of these new neurons might be. Our hypothesis is that they help the dentate gyrus to avoid the problem of catastrophic interference when adapting to new environments. We assume that old neurons are rather stable and preserve an optimal encoding learned for known environments while new neurons are plastic to adapt to those features that are qualitatively new in a new environment. A simple network simulation demonstrates that adding new plastic neurons is indeed a successful strategy for adaptation without catastrophic interference.
To address genetic influences on hippocampal neurogenesis in adult mice, we compared C57BL/6, BALB/c, CD1(ICR), and 129Sv/J mice to examine proliferation, survival, and differentiation of newborn cells in the dentate gyrus. Proliferation was highest in C57BL/6; the survival rate of newborn cells was highest in CD1. In all strains ≈60% of surviving newborn cells had a neuronal phenotype, but 129/SvJ produced more astrocytes. Over 6 days C57BL/6 produced 0.36% of their total granule cell number of 239,000 as new neurons, BALB/c 0.30% of 242,000, CD1 (ICR) 0.32% of 351,000, and 129/SvJ 0.16% of 280,000. These results show that different aspects of adult hippocampal neurogenesis are differentially influenced by the genetic background.
This study builds on the findings that physical activity, such as wheel running in mice, enhances cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus of the common mouse strain C57BL/6, and that the baseline level of neurogenesis varies by strain, being considerably lower in DBA/2. Because C57BL/6 and DBA/2 are important as the parental strains of the BXD recombinant inbred cross which allows the detection of genetic loci regulating phenotypes such as adult neurogenesis, we performed the current study to investigate the gene x environment interactions regulating neurogenesis. At equal distances and times run DBA/2J mice lacked the acute increase in precursor cell proliferation known from C57BL/6. In DBA/2J proliferation even negatively correlated with the distance run. This was neither due to a stress response (to running itse...
Folate deficiency and resultant increased homocysteine levels have been linked experimentally and epidemiologically with neurodegenerative conditions like stroke and dementia. Moreover, folate deficiency has been implicated in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders, most notably depression. We hypothesized that the pathogenic mechanisms include uracil misincorporation and, therefore, analyzed the effects of folate deficiency in mice lacking uracil DNA glycosylase (Ung−/−) versus wild-type controls. Folate depletion increased nuclear mutation rates in Ung−/− embryonic fibroblasts, and conferred death of cultured Ung−/− hippocampal neurons. Feeding animals a folate-deficient diet (FD) for 3 months induced degeneration of CA3 pyramidal neurons in Ung−/− but not Ung+/+ mice along with decreased hippocampal expression of brain-derived ne...
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