[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The discovery of adult-born neurons in the hippocampus has triggered a wide range of studies that link the new neurons to various behavioral functions. However, the role of new neurons in behavior is still equivocal. Conflicting results may be due to the difficulty in manipulating neurogenesis without off-target effects as well as the statistical approach used, which fails to account for neurogenesis-independent effects of experimental manipulations on behavior. In this study, we apply a more comprehensive statistical and conceptual approach. Instead of between-group analyses, we consider the within-group relationships between neurogenesis and behavior (ANCOVA and mediation analysis) in a large scale experiment, in which distinct age- (3 months and 5 months) and strain- (DBA and C57) related differences in basal levels of neurogenesis in mice are compared with a large number (∼1500) of behavioral read outs. The analysis failed to detect any association between anxiety and motor impulsivity with neurogenesis. However, within group adult hippocampal neurogenesis is associated with the reaction to novelty. Specifically, more neurogenesis is associated with a longer latency to explore and a lower frequency of exploratory actions, overall indicative of a phenotype where animals with more neurogenesis were slower to explore a novel environment. This effect is observed in 5 months, but not in 3 months old mice of both strains. An association between the reaction to novelty and adult neurogenesis can have a major impact on results from previous studies using classical behavioral experiments, in which animals are tested in a, for the animal, novel experimental set up. The neurogenesis-novelty association found here is also a necessary link in the relation that has been suggested to exist between neurogenesis and psychiatric disorders marked by a failure to cope with novelty. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) represent the most common treatment for major depression. However, their efficacy is variable and incomplete. In order to elucidate the cause of such incomplete efficacy, we explored the hypothesis positing that SSRIs may not affect mood per se but, by enhancing neural plasticity, render the individual more susceptible to the influence of the environment. Consequently, SSRI administration in a favorable environment promotes a reduction of symptoms, whereas in a stressful environment leads to a worse prognosis. To test such hypothesis, we exposed C57BL/6 mice to chronic stress in order to induce a depression-like phenotype and, subsequently, to fluoxetine treatment (21 days), while being exposed to either an enriched or a stressful condition. We measured the most commonly investigated molecular, cellular and behavioral endophenotypes of depression and SSRI outcome, including depression-like behavior, neurogenesis, brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels, hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis activity and long-term potentiation. Results showed that, in line with our hypothesis, the endophenotypes investigated were affected by the treatment according to the quality of the living environment. In particular, mice treated with fluoxetine in an enriched condition overall improved their depression-like phenotype compared with controls, whereas those treated in a stressful condition showed a distinct worsening. Our findings suggest that the effects of SSRI on the depression-like phenotype is not determined by the drug per se but is induced by the drug and driven by the environment. These findings may be helpful to explain variable effects of SSRI found in clinical practice and to device strategies aimed at enhancing their efficacy by means of controlling environmental conditions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adult born neurons in the hippocampus show species-specific differences in their numbers, the pace of their maturation and their spatial distribution. Here, we present quantitative data on adult hippocampal neurogenesis in a New World primate, the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) that demonstrate parts of the lineage progression and age-related changes. Proliferation was largely (∼70%) restricted to stem cells or early progenitor cells, whilst the remainder of the cycling pool could be assigned almost exclusively to Tbr2+ intermediate precursor cells in both neonate and adult animals (20-122 months). Proliferating DCX+ neuroblasts were virtually absent in adults, although rare MCM2+/DCX+ co-expression revealed a small, persisting proliferative potential. Co-expression of DCX with calretinin was very limited in marmosets, suggesting that these markers label distinct maturational stages. In adult marmosets, numbers of MCM2+, Ki67+, and significantly Tbr2+, DCX+, and CR+ cells declined with age. The distributions of granule cells, proliferating cells and DCX+ young neurons along the hippocampal longitudinal axis were equal in marmosets and mice. In both species, a gradient along the hippocampal septo-temporal axis was apparent for DCX+ and resident granule cells. Both cell numbers are higher septally than temporally, whilst proliferating cells were evenly distributed along this axis. Relative to resident granule cells, however, the ratio of proliferating cells and DCX+ neurons remained constant in the septal, middle, and temporal hippocampus. In marmosets, the extended phase of the maturation of young neurons that characterizes primate hippocampal neurogenesis was due to the extension in a large CR+/DCX- cell population. This clear dissociation between DCX+ and CR+ young neurons has not been reported for other species and may therefore represent a key primate-specific feature of adult hippocampal neurogenesis.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · Frontiers in Neuroanatomy
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: African mole-rats (family Bathyergidae) are small to medium sized, long-lived and strictly subterranean rodents that became valuable animal models as a result of their longevity and diversity in social organization. The formation and integration of new hippocampal neurons in adult mammals (adult hippocampal neurogenesis, AHN) correlates negatively with age and positively with habitat complexity. Here we present quantitative data on AHN in wild-derived mole-rats of one year and older, and briefly describe its anatomical context including markers of neuronal function (calbindin and parvalbumin). Solitary Cape mole-rats (Georychus capensis), social highveld mole-rats (Cryptomys hottentotus pretoriae), and eusocial naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber) were assessed. Compared to other rodents, the hippocampal formation in mole-rats is small, but shows a distinct cytoarchitecture in the dentate gyrus and CA1. Distributions of the calcium-binding proteins differ from those seen in rodents; e.g., calbindin in CA3 of naked mole-rats distributes similar to the pattern seen in early primate development, and calbindin staining extends into the stratum lacunosum moleculare of Cape mole-rats. Proliferating cells and young neurons are found in low numbers in the hippocampus of all three mole-rat species. Resident granule cell numbers are low as well. Proliferating cells expressed as a percentage of resident granule cells are in the range of other rodents, while the percentage of young neurons is lower than that observed in surface dwelling rodents. Between mole-rat species, we observed no difference in the percentage of proliferating cells. The percentages of young neurons are high in social highveld and naked mole-rats, and low in solitary Cape mole-rats. The findings support that proliferation is regulated independently of average life expectancy and habitat. Instead, neuronal differentiation reflects species-specific demands, which appear lower in subterranean rodents.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · Frontiers in Neuroanatomy
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The brains of sengis (elephant shrews, order Macroscelidae) have long been known to contain a hippocampus that in terms of allometric progression indices is larger than that of most primates and equal in size to that of humans. In this report, we provide descriptions of hippocampal cytoarchitecture in the eastern rock sengi (Elephantulus myurus), of the distributions of hippocampal calretinin, calbindin, parvalbumin, and somatostatin, of principal neuron numbers, and of cell numbers related to proliferation and neuronal differentiation in adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Sengi hippocampal cytoarchitecture is an amalgamation of characters that are found in CA1 of, e.g., guinea pig and rabbits and in CA3 and dentate gyrus of primates. Correspondence analysis of total cell numbers and quantitative relations between principal cell populations relate this sengi to macaque monkeys and domestic pigs, and distinguish the sengi from distinct patterns of relations found in humans, dogs, and murine rodents. Calretinin and calbindin are present in some cell populations that also express these proteins in other species, e.g., interneurons at the stratum oriens/alveus border or temporal hilar mossy cells, but neurons expressing these markers are often scarce or absent in other layers. The distributions of parvalbumin and somatostatin resemble those in other species. Normalized numbers of PCNA+ proliferating cells and doublecortin-positive (DCX+) differentiating cells of neuronal lineage fall within the overall ranges of murid rodents, but differed from three murid species captured in the same habitat in that fewer DCX+ cells relative to PCNA+ were observed. The large and well-differentiated sengi hippocampus is not accompanied by correspondingly sized cortical and subcortical limbic areas that are the main hippocampal sources of afferents and targets of efferents. This points to intrinsic hippocampal information processing as the selective advantage of the large sengi hippocampus.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Frontiers in Neuroanatomy
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A large number of laboratory and field based studies are being carried out on mole-rats, both in our research group and others. Several studies have highlighted the development of adverse behaviours in laboratory animals and have emphasised the importance of enrichment for captive animals. Hence we were interested in evaluating how laboratory housing would affect behavioural performance in mole-rats. We investigated exploratory behaviour, the ability to discriminate between novel and familiar environments and reference memory in the solitary Cape mole-rat (Georychuscapensis). Our data showed that both wild and captive animals readily explore open spaces and tunnels. Wild animals were however more active than their captive counterparts. In the Y maze two trial discrimination task, wild animals failed to discriminate between novel and familiar environments, while laboratory housed mole-rats showed preferential spatial discrimination in terms of the length of time spent in the novel arm. The performance of the laboratory and wild animals were similar when tested for reference memory in the Y maze, both groups showed a significant improvement compared to the first day, from the 3rd day onwards. Wild animals made more mistakes whereas laboratory animals were slower in completing the task. The difference in performance between wild and laboratory animals in the Y-maze may be as a result of the lower activity of the laboratory animals. Laboratory maintained Cape mole-rats show classic behaviours resulting from a lack of stimulation such as reduced activity and increased aggression. However, they do display an improved novelty discrimination compared to the wild animals. Slower locomotion rate of the laboratory animals may increase the integration time of stimuli, hence result in a more thorough inspection of the surroundings. Unlike the captive animals, wild animals show flexibility in their responses to unpredictable events, which is an important requirement under natural living conditions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Daily life of wild mammals is characterized by a multitude of attractive and aversive stimuli. The hippocampus processes complex polymodal information associated with such stimuli and mediates adequate behavioral responses. How newly generated hippocampal neurons in wild animals contribute to hippocampal function is still a subject of debate. Here, we test the relationship between adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) and habitat types. To this end, we compare wild Muridae species of southern Africa [Namaqua rock mouse (Micaelamys namaquensis), red veld rat (Aethomys chrysophilus), highveld gerbil (Tatera brantsii), and spiny mouse (Acomys spinosissimus)] with data from wild European Muridae [long-tailed wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus), pygmy field mice (Apodemus microps), yellow-necked wood mice (Apodemus flavicollis), and house mice (Mus musculus domesticus)] from previous studies. The pattern of neurogenesis, expressed in normalized numbers of Ki67- and Doublecortin(DCX)-positive cells to total granule cells (GCs), is similar for the species from a southern African habitat. However, we found low proliferation, but high neuronal differentiation in rodents from the southern African habitat compared to rodents from the European environment. Within the African rodents, we observe additional regulatory and morphological traits in the hippocampus. Namaqua rock mice with previous pregnancies showed lower AHN compared to males and nulliparous females. The phylogenetically closely related species (Namaqua rock mouse and red veld rat) show a CA4, which is not usually observed in murine rodents. The specific features of the southern environment that may be associated with the high number of young neurons in African rodents still remain to be elucidated. This study provides the first evidence that a habitat can shape adult neurogenesis in rodents across phylogenetic groups.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · Frontiers in Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The lateral ventricle (LV) of the adult rodent brain harbors neural stem cells (NSCs) that continue to generate new neurons throughout life. NSCs located in defined areas of the LV walls generate progenitors with distinct transcriptional profiles that are committed to specific neuronal fates. Here, we assessed if such diversity of NSCs also exist in the adult common marmoset, a widely used primate species in basic and clinical neuroscience research. We first investigated the 3D distributions of proliferative progenitors and committed neuroblasts in the marmoset forebrain. In addition to these maps, we assessed the spatial presence of divergent progenitor populations based on their expression of defined transcription factors, that is, Dlx2, Pax6, Tbr2, and Ngn2 which are differentially expressed by γ-aminobutyric acidergic versus glutamatergic progenitors in the adult rodent forebrain. In striking contrast to rodents, glutamatergic progenitors were only sparse in neonates and absent from the adult LV, whilst present in the hippocampus. Our analyses highlight major differences in the diversity of NSCs of the marmoset LV compared with rodents and emphasize the need to address NSCs diversity in evolutionary higher order mammals concomitantly to rodents.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Deletion of the p66(Shc) gene results in lean and healthy mice, retards aging, and protects from aging-associated diseases, raising the question of why p66(Shc) has been selected, and what is its physiological role. We have investigated survival and reproduction of p66(Shc)-/- mice in a population living in a large outdoor enclosure for a year, subjected to food competition and exposed to winter temperatures. Under these conditions, deletion of p66(Shc) was strongly counterselected. Laboratory studies revealed that p66(Shc)-/- mice have defects in fat accumulation, thermoregulation, and reproduction, suggesting that p66(Shc) has been evolutionarily selected because of its role in energy metabolism. These findings imply that the health impact of targeting aging genes might depend on the specific energetic niche and caution should be exercised against premature conclusions regarding gene functions that have only been observed in protected laboratory conditions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adult hippocampal neurogenesis is a prominent event in rodents. In species with longer life expectancies, newly born cells in the adult dentate gyrus of the hippocampal formation are less abundant or can be completely absent. Several lines of evidence indicate that the regulatory mechanisms of adult neurogenesis differ between short- and long-lived mammals. After a critical appraisal of the factors and problems associated with comparing different species, we provide a quantitative comparison derived from seven laboratory strains of mice (BALB, C57BL/6, CD1, outbred) and rats (F344, Sprague-Dawley, Wistar), six other rodent species of which four are wild-derived (wood mouse, vole, spiny mouse and guinea pig), three non-human primate species (marmoset and two macaque species) and one carnivore (red fox).
Normalizing the number of proliferating cells to total granule cell number, we observe an overall exponential decline in proliferation that is chronologically equal between species and orders and independent of early developmental processes and life span. Long- and short-lived mammals differ with regard to major life history stages; at the time points of weaning, age at first reproduction and average life expectancy, long-lived primates and foxes have significantly fewer proliferating cells than rodents. Although the database for neuronal differentiation is limited, we find indications that the extent of neuronal differentiation is subject to species-specific selective adaptations. We conclude that absolute age is the critical factor regulating cell genesis in the adult hippocampus of mammals. Ontogenetic and ecological factors primarily influence the regulation of neuronal differentiation rather than the rate of cell proliferation.
No preview · Article · Sep 2011 · European Journal of Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) of laboratory rodents is enhanced by physical exercise in a running wheel. However, little is known about modulation of AHN in wild-living rodent species. The finding that AHN cannot be modulated by voluntary exercise in wild wood mice suggests that AHN may be regulated differently under natural conditions than in laboratory adapted animals. In order to minimize genetic influences, we aimed to investigate the genetically closest wild-living relatives of laboratory mice. Here, C57BL/6 mice and F1 offspring of wild house mice (Mus musculus domesticus) were tested in two different running paradigms: voluntary running and running-for-food--a condition in which mice had to run for their daily allowance of food. In house mice, we found a non-significant trend towards increased numbers of proliferating cells and doublecortin-positive immature neurons in both voluntary runners and runners-for-food. Voluntary running in C57BL/6 mice resulted in a 30% increase in cell proliferation and a pronounced 70% increase in doublecortin-positive cells. C57BL/6 runners-for-food ran as much as voluntary runners, but they showed no enhancement of cell proliferation, a small increase in the number of doublecortin-positive cells and more pyknotic cells compared to controls. Taken together, these findings suggest that motivational aspects of running are critical determinants of the increased cell proliferation in C57BL/6 mice. In contrast, running has smaller and context-independent effects in house mice. The findings imply a difference in the regulation of AHN in C57BL/6 mice and their wild-derived conspecifics.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2011 · Behavioural brain research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The increasing resolution of tract-tracing studies has led to the definition of segments along the transverse axis of the hippocampal pyramidal cell layer, which may represent functionally defined elements. This review will summarize evidence for a morphological and functional differentiation of pyramidal cells along the radial (deep to superficial) axis of the cell layer. In many species, deep and superficial sublayers can be identified histologically throughout large parts of the septotemporal extent of the hippocampus. Neurons in these sublayers are generated during different periods of development. During development, deep and superficial cells express genes (Sox5, SatB2) that also specify the phenotypes of superficial and deep cells in the neocortex. Deep and superficial cells differ neurochemically (e.g. calbindin and zinc) and in their adult gene expression patterns. These markers also distinguish sublayers in the septal hippocampus, where they are not readily apparent histologically in rat or mouse. Deep and superficial pyramidal cells differ in septal, striatal, and neocortical efferent connections. Distributions of deep and superficial pyramidal cell dendrites and studies in reeler or sparsely GFP-expressing mice indicate that this also applies to afferent pathways. Histological, neurochemical, and connective differences between deep and superficial neurons may correlate with (patho-) physiological phenomena specific to pyramidal cells at different radial locations. We feel that an appreciation of radial subdivisions in the pyramidal cell layer reminiscent of lamination in other cortical areas may be critical in the interpretation of studies of hippocampal anatomy and function.
Preview · Article · May 2011 · Brain Structure and Function
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adult hippocampal neurogenesis, i.e. the formation of new neurons within the existing neuronal network of the dentate gyrus, is subject to modulation by internal and external factors. Among them, voluntary physical exercise is one of the best investigated positive stimulators of neurogenesis in laboratory rodents. Straightforward translation of the observed running-increased neurogenesis has nourished the commonsensical idea that physical challenges would keep our brains healthy and young. However, several lines of evidence indicate that the tempting assumption that, through physical exercise neurogenesis increases and hence cognition improves, might fall short of more complex effects and interactions. In the present work we argue that motivation may be a key factor in determining whether exercise will positively affect neurogenesis in the hippocampus of laboratory animals. In addition, it has been shown that in genetically heterogeneous wild mouse species hippocampal neurogenesis can be exercise- and context-independent. It appears that in wild rodents adult hippocampal neurogenesis is stabilized to the sum of transient pleasant and aversive stimuli characterizing a natural environment. Variability in the regulation of adult neurogenesis questions if the concept of an improved cognition mediated by a running-increased neurogenesis can be easily transferred to the human condition. The present review surveys the research on exercise and hippocampal neurogenesis in the context of motivation, genetic background and species differences.
No preview · Article · Apr 2011 · Behavioural brain research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Species-specific characteristics of neuronal plasticity emerging from comparative studies can address the functional relevance of hippocampal or cortical plasticity in the light of ecological adaptation and evolutionary history of a given species. Here, we present a quantitative and qualitative analysis of neurogenesis in young and adult free-living Wahlberg's epauletted fruit bats. Using the markers for proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU), doublecortin (DCX) and polysialic acid neural cell adhesion molecule (PSA-NCAM), our findings in the hippocampus, olfactory bulb and cortical regions are described and compared to reports in other mammals. Expressed as a percentage of the total number of granule cells, PCNA- and BrdU-positive cells accounted for 0.04 in young to 0.01% in adult animals; DCX-positive cells for 0.05 (young) to 0.01% (adult); PSA-NCAM-positive cells for 0.1 (young) to 0.02% (adult), and pyknotic cells for 0.007 (young) to 0.005% (adult). The numbers were comparable to other long-lived, late-maturing mammals such as primates. A significant increase in the total granule cell number from young to adult animals demonstrated the successful formation and integration of new cells. In adulthood, granule cell number appeared stable and was surprisingly low in comparison to other species. Observations in the olfactory bulb and rostral migratory stream were qualitatively similar to descriptions in other species. In the ventral horn of the lateral ventricle, we noted prominent expression of DCX and PSA-NCAM forming a temporal migratory stream targeting the piriform cortex, possibly reflecting the importance of olfaction to these species. Low, but persistent hippocampal neurogenesis in non-echolocating fruit bats contrasted the findings in echolocating microbats, in which hippocampal neurogenesis was largely absent. Together with the observed intense cortical plasticity in the olfactory system of fruit bats we suggest a differential influence of sensory modalities on hippocampal and cortical plasticity in this mammalian order.
No preview · Article · Nov 2010 · Brain Behavior and Evolution
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Modelling entorhinal function or evaluating the consequences of neuronal losses which accompany neurodegenerative disorders requires detailed information on the quantitative cellular composition of the normal entorhinal cortex. Using design-based stereological methods, we estimated the numbers, proportions, densities and sectional areas of layer II cells in the medial entorhinal area (MEA), and its constituent caudal entorhinal (CE) and medial entorhinal (ME) fields, in the rat and mouse. We estimated layer II of the MEA to contain approximately 58,000 neurons in the rat and approximately 24,000 neurons in the mouse. Field CE accounted for more than three-quarters of the total neuron population in both species. In the rat, layer II of the MEA is comprised of 38% ovoid stellate cells, 29% polygonal stellate cells and 17% pyramidal cells. The remainder is comprised of much smaller populations of horizontal bipolar, tripolar, oblique pyramidal and small round cells. In the mouse, MEA layer II is comprised of 52% ovoid stellate cells, 22% polygonal stellate cells and 14% pyramidal cells. Significant species differences in the proportions of ovoid and polygonal stellate cells suggest differences in physiological and functional properties. The majority of MEA layer II cells contribute to the entorhinal-hippocampal pathways. The degree of divergence from MEA layer II cells to the dentate granule cells was similar in the rat and mouse. In both rat and mouse, the only dorsoventral difference we observed is a gradient in polygonal stellate cell sectional area, which may relate to the dorsoventral increase in the size and spacing of individual neuronal firing fields. In summary, we found species-specific cellular compositions of MEA layer II, while, within a species, quantitative parameters other than cell size are stable along the dorsoventral and mediolateral axis of the MEA.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study describes the organisation of the entorhinal cortex of the Megachiroptera, Strawcoloured fruit bat and Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat. Using Nissl and Timm stains, parvalbumin and SMI-32 immunohistochemistry, we identified 5 fields within the medial(MEA) and lateral (LEA) entorhinal areas. MEA fields ECL and EC are characterised by a poor differentiation between layers II and III, a distinct layer IV and broad, stratified layers V
and VI. LEA fields EI, ER and EL are distinguished by cell clusters in layer II, a clear differentiation between layers II and III, a wide columnar layer III, and a broad sublayer Va. Clustering in LEA layer II was more typical of the Straw-coloured fruit bat. Timm-staining was most intense in layers Ib and II across all fields, and layer III of field ER. Parvalbuminlike staining varied along a medio-lateral gradient with highest immunoreactivity in layers II and III of MEA and more lateral fields of LEA. Sparse SMI-32-like immunoreactivity was seen only in Wahlberg’s epauletted fruit bat. Of the neurons in MEA layer II, ovoid stellate cells account for ~38%, polygonal stellate cells for ~8%, pyramidal cells for ~18%, oblique
pyramidal cells for ~6%, and other neurons of variable morphology for ~29%. Differences between bats and other species in cellular make-up and cytoarchitecture of layer II may relate to their 3-dimensional habitat. Cytoarchitecture of layer V in conjunction with high
encephalisation and structural changes in the hippocampus suggest similarities in efferent hippocampal-entorhinal-cortical interactions between fruit bats and primates.
Preview · Article · May 2010 · Brain Structure and Function