Enhanced synaptic integration of adult-born neurons in the olfactory bulb of lactating mothers.
ABSTRACT One of the most dramatic events during the life of adult mammals is the transition into motherhood. This transition is accompanied by specific maternal behaviors, displayed by the mother, that ensure the survival and the well-being of her offspring. The execution of these behaviors is most likely accompanied by plastic changes in specific neuronal circuits, but these are still poorly defined. In this work, we studied the mammalian olfactory bulb (OB), which has been shown to be an essential brain region for maternal behaviors in mice. In the OB, we focused on adult-born neurons, which are continuously incorporated into the circuit during adulthood, thus providing a potential substrate for heightened plasticity after parturition. We analyzed the dynamics and morphological characteristics of adult-born granule cells (abGCs), innervating the OB of primiparous lactating mothers, shortly after parturition as well as in naive females. In vivo time-lapse imaging of abGCs revealed that dendritic spines were significantly more stable in lactating mothers compared with naive virgins. In contrast, spine stability of resident GCs remained unchanged after parturition. In addition, while spine size distribution of abGCs was approximately similar between mothers and naive virgins, the spine density of abGCs was lower in lactating mothers and the density of their presynaptic components was higher. These structural features are indicative of enhanced integration of adult-born neurons into the bulbar circuitry of lactating mothers. This enhanced integration may serve as a cellular mechanism, supporting changes in olfactory coding of new mothers during their first days following parturition.
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ABSTRACT: Adult neurogenesis in mammals is predominantly restricted to two brain regions, the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus and the olfactory bulb, suggesting that these two brain regions uniquely share functions that mediate its adaptive significance. Benefits of adult neurogenesis across these two regions appear to converge on increased neuronal and structural plasticity that subserves coding of novel, complex, and fine-grained information, usually with contextual components that include spatial positioning. By contrast, costs of adult neurogenesis appear to center on potential for dysregulation resulting in higher risk of brain cancer or psychological dysfunctions, but such costs have yet to be quantified directly. The three main hypotheses for the proximate functions and adaptive significance of adult neurogenesis, pattern separation, memory consolidation, and olfactory spatial, are not mutually exclusive and can be reconciled into a simple general model amenable to targeted experimental and comparative tests. Comparative analysis of brain region sizes across two major social-ecological groups of primates, gregarious (mainly diurnal haplorhines, visually-oriented, and in large social groups) and solitary (mainly noctural, territorial, and highly reliant on olfaction, as in most rodents) suggest that solitary species, but not gregarious species, show positive associations of population densities and home range sizes with sizes of both the hippocampus and olfactory bulb, implicating their functions in social-territorial systems mediated by olfactory cues. Integrated analyses of the adaptive significance of adult neurogenesis will benefit from experimental studies motivated and structured by ecologically and socially valid selective contexts.Frontiers in Neuroanatomy 07/2013; 7(21). · 4.06 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Women experience dramatic changes in hormones, mood, and cognition through different periods of their reproductive lives, particularly during pregnancy and giving birth. While limited human studies of early pregnancy and motherhood showed alteration of cognitive function in later life, research conducted on rodents showed a persistent improvement of learning and memory performance in females with history of giving birth (primiparous or multiparous) compared to virgin controls (nulliparous). In this mini review, we will focus on the effect of early motherhood on cognitive function later in life, which would provide insight on how reproductive experiences influence women's health during aging.Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD 12/2012; · 4.17 Impact Factor