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Modulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in laboratory- and wild mice


Hauser Klaus, F. Modulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in laboratory- and wild mice. 2011, University of Zurich, Faculty of Medicine.

Abstract

Evidence for the generation of young neurons out of precursor cells in the adult brain, i.e. adult neurogenesis, exists for at least two brain regions. New nerve cells are generated in the subventricular zone of the olfactory bulb and in the subgranular zone of hippocampal dentate gyrus. Young neurons of the subgranular zone migrate along the rostral migratory stream to the olfactory bulb, where they functionally integrate and contribute to the discrimination of odors. In the hippocampus the function of newly formed granule cells is still a matter of debate, yet it is thought that adult neurogenesis functionally contributes to hippocampal functions.
Over the last twenty years of extensive research it became clear that adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) in laboratory rodents can be up-and down regulated by different internal and external stimuli. Physical exercise in a running wheel being among the factors that have been most investigated. Since voluntary exercise not only increases adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus but also beneficially affects learning and memory in laboratory mice and rats, a widespread assumption holds a direct relationship between AHN and cognitive brain health also in higher order species, including humans. However, translating findings in laboratory rodents to the human condition faces difficulties. Enormous differences in basal rates of adult neurogenesis have been reported between mammalian species. The low level of AHN in primates and the complete lack of adult neurogenesis in bat species indicate species-specific differences in adult neurogenesis not only on a regulatory but also on a functional level. For a better understanding of species-specific differences in the regulation of AHN, we investigated basal rates of adult neurogenesis in laboratory mice and closely related wild mouse strains as well as the reaction of AHN to motivationally different running conditions. Testing different wild- and laboratory mice in the same environment allowed the identification of species-specific differences as well as possible domestication effects.
Basal rates of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in equally-aged and genetically identical laboratory C57BL/6 mice show individual differences possibly reflecting epigenetic factors. However, the initial level of adult neurogenesis does not influence the response to wheel-exercise. Voluntary physical exercise in laboratory mice always increases AHN but this positive effect cannot be additively stimulated by enhanced running and is even lost as soon as the mice are forced to run. Rewarding the mice for their performance leads to an increase in wheel activity
but does not translate into a corresponding additive increase in adult neurogenesis. Likewise, a more naturalistic situation, in which laboratory mice must run to obtain their daily food does not lead to an increase in cell proliferation and entails only a small increase in the number of young neurons, far below the one in voluntary running mice.
Wild wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus) and wild-derived western house mice (Mus musculus domesticus), both close relatives of the common laboratory mouse strains, were tested in the same running situations as laboratory C57BL/6 mice. Besides species-differences in basal neurogenesis rate, we find adult neurogenesis in wild mice remaining relatively constant in response to external influences. None of the factors that normally affect AHN in laboratory animals, such as stress, environmental changes or physical exercise, have an effect on adult neurogenesis in these animals. In wood mice, neither voluntary wheel running nor stress or an impoverished cage environment affect the number of newly generated neurons. House mice also show a stable adult neurogenesis, which shows no significant change after voluntary running or running for food.
Adult neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus is thus regulated differently in laboratory and wild mice. However, even in laboratory mice it is not as plastic as initially suggested: laboratory mice, which are tested in a more naturalistic and complex running situation, show rather weak plasticity of AHN, resembling wild mice. Hence, it seems that the regulatory difference in adult neurogenesis between laboratory- and wild mice is, that laboratory animals react to a single stimulus in absence of other inputs. We believe that the constant exposure to different stimuli potentially affecting AHN has led to a natural selection that stabilizes adult neurogenesis in the wild. In contrast, during domestication - including inbreeding - much of the homeostatic capacity in regulating adult neurogenesis might have been lost.
Taken together, our data imply that genetic (species-specific differences as well as within-species variation) play an important role in determining basal rates of adult neurogenesis, while motivational-contextual factors modulate the response of AHN to physical exercise, albeit chiefly in domesticated laboratory strains . As such differences appear already between phylogenetically closely related species, extrapolating findings in laboratory mice to distantly related taxonomic groups, such as humans, obviously requires much caution.

Evidence for the generation of young neurons out of precursor cells in the adult brain, i.e. adult neurogenesis, exists for at least two brain regions. New nerve cells are generated in the subventricular zone of the olfactory bulb and in the subgranular zone of hippocampal dentate gyrus. Young neurons of the subgranular zone migrate along the rostral migratory stream to the olfactory bulb, where they functionally integrate and contribute to the discrimination of odors. In the hippocampus the function of newly formed granule cells is still a matter of debate, yet it is thought that adult neurogenesis functionally contributes to hippocampal functions.
Over the last twenty years of extensive research it became clear that adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) in laboratory rodents can be up-and down regulated by different internal and external stimuli. Physical exercise in a running wheel being among the factors that have been most investigated. Since voluntary exercise not only increases adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus but also beneficially affects learning and memory in laboratory mice and rats, a widespread assumption holds a direct relationship between AHN and cognitive brain health also in higher order species, including humans. However, translating findings in laboratory rodents to the human condition faces difficulties. Enormous differences in basal rates of adult neurogenesis have been reported between mammalian species. The low level of AHN in primates and the complete lack of adult neurogenesis in bat species indicate species-specific differences in adult neurogenesis not only on a regulatory but also on a functional level. For a better understanding of species-specific differences in the regulation of AHN, we investigated basal rates of adult neurogenesis in laboratory mice and closely related wild mouse strains as well as the reaction of AHN to motivationally different running conditions. Testing different wild- and laboratory mice in the same environment allowed the identification of species-specific differences as well as possible domestication effects.
Basal rates of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in equally-aged and genetically identical laboratory C57BL/6 mice show individual differences possibly reflecting epigenetic factors. However, the initial level of adult neurogenesis does not influence the response to wheel-exercise. Voluntary physical exercise in laboratory mice always increases AHN but this positive effect cannot be additively stimulated by enhanced running and is even lost as soon as the mice are forced to run. Rewarding the mice for their performance leads to an increase in wheel activity
but does not translate into a corresponding additive increase in adult neurogenesis. Likewise, a more naturalistic situation, in which laboratory mice must run to obtain their daily food does not lead to an increase in cell proliferation and entails only a small increase in the number of young neurons, far below the one in voluntary running mice.
Wild wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus) and wild-derived western house mice (Mus musculus domesticus), both close relatives of the common laboratory mouse strains, were tested in the same running situations as laboratory C57BL/6 mice. Besides species-differences in basal neurogenesis rate, we find adult neurogenesis in wild mice remaining relatively constant in response to external influences. None of the factors that normally affect AHN in laboratory animals, such as stress, environmental changes or physical exercise, have an effect on adult neurogenesis in these animals. In wood mice, neither voluntary wheel running nor stress or an impoverished cage environment affect the number of newly generated neurons. House mice also show a stable adult neurogenesis, which shows no significant change after voluntary running or running for food.
Adult neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus is thus regulated differently in laboratory and wild mice. However, even in laboratory mice it is not as plastic as initially suggested: laboratory mice, which are tested in a more naturalistic and complex running situation, show rather weak plasticity of AHN, resembling wild mice. Hence, it seems that the regulatory difference in adult neurogenesis between laboratory- and wild mice is, that laboratory animals react to a single stimulus in absence of other inputs. We believe that the constant exposure to different stimuli potentially affecting AHN has led to a natural selection that stabilizes adult neurogenesis in the wild. In contrast, during domestication - including inbreeding - much of the homeostatic capacity in regulating adult neurogenesis might have been lost.
Taken together, our data imply that genetic (species-specific differences as well as within-species variation) play an important role in determining basal rates of adult neurogenesis, while motivational-contextual factors modulate the response of AHN to physical exercise, albeit chiefly in domesticated laboratory strains . As such differences appear already between phylogenetically closely related species, extrapolating findings in laboratory mice to distantly related taxonomic groups, such as humans, obviously requires much caution.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Dissertation
Referees:Lipp Hans-Peter, Amrein Irmgard, König Barbara, Wolfer David P
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Anatomy
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:22 Mar 2012 12:04
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:45
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-61327

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