Author(s): Abrous DN, Koehl M, Le Moal M
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Abstract The discovery that the adult mammalian brain creates new neurons from pools of stemlike cells was a breakthrough in neuroscience. Interestingly, this particular new form of structural brain plasticity seems specific to discrete brain regions, and most investigations concern the subventricular zone (SVZ) and the dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampal formation (HF). Overall, two main lines of research have emerged over the last two decades: the first aims to understand the fundamental biological properties of neural stemlike cells (and their progeny) and the integration of the newly born neurons into preexisting networks, while the second focuses on understanding its relevance in brain functioning, which has been more extensively approached in the DG. Here, we propose an overview of the current knowledge on adult neurogenesis and its functional relevance for the adult brain. We first present an analysis of the methodological issues that have hampered progress in this field and describe the main neurogenic sites with their specificities. We will see that despite considerable progress, the levels of anatomic and functional integration of the newly born neurons within the host circuitry have yet to be elucidated. Then the intracellular mechanisms controlling neuronal fate are presented briefly, along with the extrinsic factors that regulate adult neurogenesis. We will see that a growing list of epigenetic factors that display a specificity of action depending on the neurogenic site under consideration has been identified. Finally, we review the progress accomplished in implicating neurogenesis in hippocampal functioning under physiological conditions and in the development of hippocampal-related pathologies such as epilepsy, mood disorders, and addiction. This constitutes a necessary step in promoting the development of therapeutic strategies.
This article was published in Physiol Rev
and referenced in Journal of Stem Cell Research & Therapy