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Adult hippocampal neurogenesis and aging

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Abstract

The demographic changes in the foreseeable future stress the need for research on successful cognitive aging. Advancing age constitutes a primary risk factor for disease of the central nervous system most notably neurodegenerative disorders. The hippocampus is one of the brain regions that is prominently affected by neurodegeneration and functional decline even in what is still considered “normal aging”. Plasticity is the basis for how the brain adapts to changes over time. The discovery of adult hippocampal neurogenesis has added a whole new dimension to research on structural plasticity in the adult and aging hippocampus. In this article, we briefly summarize and discuss recent findings on the regulation of adult neurogenesis with relevance to aging. Aging is an important co-variable for many regulatory mechanisms affecting adult neurogenesis but so far, only few studies have specifically addressed this interaction. We hypothesize that adult neurogenesis contributes to a neural reserve, i.e. the maintained potential for structural plasticity that allows compensation in situations of functional losses with aging. As such we propose that adult neurogenesis might contribute to the structural correlates of successful aging.

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Correspondence to Gerd Kempermann MD.

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Klempin, F., Kempermann, G. Adult hippocampal neurogenesis and aging. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosc 257, 271–280 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00406-007-0731-5

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