Neuroscience

Much-Needed Neurogenesis

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Science  29 Mar 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6127, pp. 1497-1499
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6127.1497-d

Destruction of nervous tissue, such as what occurs during stroke, traumatic brain injury, or neurodegeneration, usually causes deficits and malfunctions. However, brain injury can also stimulate plasticity. Perederiy et al. created unilateral lesions of the perforant path in the hippocampus in a mouse model and observed the response of newborn granule cells that were dividing at the time of the lesion. Using transgenic and retroviral labelling techniques, these cells could be followed and traced over the coming days and weeks. Chronic denervation triggered the proliferation of adult-generated neurons. The dendrites of these newborn neurons penetrated into the denervated zone but had a simpler morphology, comparable to the retraction of distal dendrites in mature granule cells. However, they could still produce new dendritic spines and could also be synaptically activated by other nonlesioned pathways. Excitatory axons from these pathways formed new synapses with newborn granule cells. Lesions are thus not only damaging: They can stimulate the production of adult-generated neurons, and these newly produced cells can show enhanced structural plasticity.

J. Neurosci. 33, 4754 (2013).

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