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Enhanced neurogenesis after transient global ischemia in the dentate gyrus of the rat

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The dentate gyrus is one of the few areas of the mammalian brain where new neurons are continuously produced in adulthood. Certain insults such as epileptic seizures and ischemia are known to enhance the rate of neuronal production. We analyzed this phenomenon using the temporary occlusion of the two carotid arteries combined with arterial hypotension as a method to induce ischemia in rats. We measured the rate of cell production and their state of differentiation with a mitotic indicator, bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU), in combination with the immunohistochemical detection of neuronal markers. One week after the ischemic episode, the cell production in dentate gyrus was increased two- to threefold more than the basal level seen in control animals. Two weeks after ischemia, over 60% of these cells became young neurons as determined by colabeling with BrdU and a cytoplasmic protein (CRMP-4) involved in axonal guidance during development. Five weeks after the ischemia, over 60% of new neurons expressed calbindin, a calcium-binding protein normally expressed in mature granule neurons. In addition to more cells being generated, a greater proportion of all new cells remained in the differentiated but not fully mature state during the 2- to 5-week period after ischemia. The maturation rate of neurons as determined by the calbindin labeling and by the rate of migration from a proliferative zone into the granule cell layer was not changed when examined 5 weeks after ischemia. The results support the hypothesis that survival of dentate gyrus after ischemia is linked with enhanced neurogenesis. Additional physiological stimulation after ischemia may be exploited to stimulate maturation of new neurons and to offer new therapeutic strategies for promoting recovery of neuronal circuitry in the injured brain.

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Kee, N., Preston, E. & Wojtowicz, J. Enhanced neurogenesis after transient global ischemia in the dentate gyrus of the rat. Exp Brain Res 136, 313–320 (2001).

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