Activity-Dependent Reconnection of Adult-Born Dentate Granule Cells in a Mouse Model of Frontotemporal Dementia.

Terreros-Roncal J, Flor-García M, Moreno-Jiménez EP, Pallas-Bazarra N, Rábano A, Sah N, van Praag H, Giacomini D, Schinder AF, Ávila J, Llorens-Martín M.

Journal of Neuroscience
doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2724-18.2019.

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is characterized by neuronal loss in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Here, we provide the first evidence of striking morphological alterations in dentate granule cells (DGCs) of FTD patients and in a mouse model of the disease, TauVLW mice. Taking advantage of the fact that the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) gives rise to newborn DGCs throughout the lifetime in rodents, we used RGB retroviruses to study the temporary course of these alterations in newborn DGCs of female TauVLW mice. In addition, retroviruses that encode either PSD95:GFP or Syn:GFP revealed striking alterations in the afferent and efferent connectivity of newborn TauVLW DGCs, and monosynaptic retrograde rabies virus tracing showed that these cells are disconnected from distal brain regions and local sources of excitatory innervation. However, the same cells exhibited a predominance of local inhibitory innervation. Accordingly, the expression of presynaptic and postsynaptic markers of inhibitory synapses was markedly increased in the DG of TauVLW mice and FTD patients. Moreover, an increased number of neuropeptide Y-positive interneurons in the DG correlated with a reduced number of activated egr-1+ DGCs in TauVLW mice. Finally, we tested the therapeutic potential of environmental enrichment and chemoactivation to reverse these alterations in mice. Both strategies reversed the morphological alterations of newborn DGCs and partially restored their connectivity in a mouse model of the disease. Moreover, our data point to remarkable morphological similarities between the DGCs of TauVLW mice and FTD patients.

The Social Component of Environmental Enrichment Is a Pro-neurogenic Stimulus in Adult c57BL6 Female Mice.

Moreno-Jiménez EP, Jurado-Arjona J, Ávila J, Llorens-Martín M.

Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology.
doi: 10.3389/fcell.2019.00062.

In rodents, the hippocampal dentate gyrus gives rise to newly generated dentate granule cells (DGCs) throughout life. This process, named adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN), converges in the functional integration of mature DGCs into the trisynaptic hippocampal circuit. Environmental enrichment (EE) is one of the most potent positive regulators of AHN. This paradigm includes the combination of three major stimulatory components, namely increased physical activity, constant cognitive stimulation, and higher social interaction. In this regard, the pro-neurogenic effects of physical activity and cognitive stimulation have been widely addressed in adult rodents. However, the pro-neurogenic potential of the social aspect of EE has been less explored to date. Here we tackled this question by specifically focusing on the effects of a prolonged period of social enrichment (SE) in adult female C57BL6 mice. To this end, 7-week-old mice were housed in groups of 12 per cage for 8 weeks. These mice were compared with others housed under control housing (2-3 mice per cage) or EE (12 mice per cage plus running wheels and toys) conditions during the same period. We analyzed the number and morphology of Doublecortin-expressing (DCX+) cells. Moreover, using RGB retroviruses that allowed the labeling of three populations of newborn DGCs of different ages in the same mouse, we performed morphometric, immunohistochemical, and behavioral determinations. Both SE and EE increased the number and maturation of DCX+ cells, and caused an increase in dendritic maturation in certain populations of newborn DGCs. Moreover, both manipulations increased exploratory behavior in the Social Interaction test. Unexpectedly, our data revealed the potent neurogenesis-stimulating potential of SE in the absence of any further cognitive stimulation or increase in physical activity. Given that an increase in physical activity is strongly discouraged under certain circumstances, our findings may be relevant in the context of enhancing AHN via physical activity-independent mechanisms.

Adult-born neurons in brain circuitry.

Llorens-Martín M.

doi: 10.1126/science.aax5186.

Comment on “Adult-born hippocampal neurons bidirectionally modulate entorhinal inputs into the dentate gyrus”. Luna VM, Anacker C, Burghardt NS, Khandaker H, Andreu V, Millette A, Leary P, Ravenelle R, Jimenez JC, Mastrodonato A, Denny CA, Fenton AA, Scharfman HE, Hen R. (2019) Science;364(6440):578-583. doi: 10.1126/science.aat8789.

Adult hippocampal neurogenesis is abundant in neurologically healthy subjects and drops sharply in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Moreno-Jiménez EP, Flor-García M, Terreros-Roncal J, Rábano A, Cafini F, Pallas-Bazarra N, Ávila J, Llorens-Martín M.

Nature Medicine.
doi: 10.1038/s41591-019-0375-9.

The hippocampus is one of the most affected areas in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Moreover, this structure hosts one of the most unique phenomena of the adult mammalian brain, namely, the addition of new neurons throughout life. This process, called adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN), confers an unparalleled degree of plasticity to the entire hippocampal circuitry. Nonetheless, direct evidence of AHN in humans has remained elusive. Thus, determining whether new neurons are continuously incorporated into the human dentate gyrus (DG) during physiological and pathological aging is a crucial question with outstanding therapeutic potential. By combining human brain samples obtained under tightly controlled conditions and state-of-the-art tissue processing methods, we identified thousands of immature neurons in the DG of neurologically healthy human subjects up to the ninth decade of life. These neurons exhibited variable degrees of maturation along differentiation stages of AHN. In sharp contrast, the number and maturation of these neurons progressively declined as AD advanced. These results demonstrate the persistence of AHN during both physiological and pathological aging in humans and provide evidence for impaired neurogenesis as a potentially relevant mechanism underlying memory deficits in AD that might be amenable to novel therapeutic strategies.

News and Views Article in Nature Medicine

A fresh look at adult neurogenesis.
Steiner E, Tata M, Frisén J.

Nature Medicine.
doi: 10.1038/s41591-019-0408-4.


Editorial in Nature

Brain Storm.


March; 28 (567): 433


Recommendations as Exceptional at F1000 Prime site:

Gould E: F1000Prime Recommendation of [Moreno-Jiménez EP et al., Nat Med 2019 25(4):554-560]. In F1000Prime, 05 Apr 2019; 10.3410/f.735385392.793558401.

Overstreet-Wadiche L and Gonzalez J: F1000Prime Recommendation of [Moreno-Jiménez EP et al., Nat Med 2019 25(4):554-560]. In F1000Prime, 11 Apr 2019; 10.3410/f.735385392.793558549.

Morilak D: F1000Prime Recommendation of [Moreno-Jiménez EP et al., Nat Med 2019 25(4):554-560]. In F1000Prime, 23 May 2019; 10.3410/f.735385392.793560257.

Kizil C: Faculty Opinions Recommendation of [Moreno-Jiménez EP et al., Nat Med 2019 25(4):554-560]. In Faculty Opinions, 16 Mar 2020; 10.3410/f.735385392.793572135[M1] 

Maturation Dynamics of the Axon Initial Segment (AIS) of Newborn Dentate Granule Cells in Young Adult C57BL/6J Mice.

Bolós M, Terreros-Roncal J, Perea JR, Pallas-Bazarra N, Ávila J, Llorens-Martín M.

Journal of Neuroscience.
doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2253-18.2019.

Newborn dentate granule cells (DGCs) are generated in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) of rodents through a process called adult hippocampal neurogenesis, which is subjected to tight intrinsic and extrinsic regulation. The use of retroviruses encoding fluorescent proteins has allowed the characterization of the maturation dynamics of newborn DGCs, including their morphological development and the establishment and maturation of their afferent and efferent synaptic connections. However, the study of a crucial cellular compartment of these cells, namely, the axon initial segment (AIS), has remained unexplored to date. The AIS is not only the site of action potential initiation, but it also has a unique molecular identity that makes it one of the master regulators of neural plasticity and excitability. Here we examined the dynamics of AIS formation in newborn DGCs of young female adult C57BL/6J mice in vivo Our data reveal notable changes in AIS length and thickness throughout cell maturation under physiological conditions and show that the most remarkable structural changes coincide with periods of intense morphological and functional remodeling. Moreover, we demonstrate that AIS development can be modulated extrinsically by both neuroprotective (environmental enrichment) and detrimental (lipopolysaccharide from Escherichia coli) stimuli.


Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CBMSO) Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Campus de Cantoblanco)
C/ Nicolás Cabrera 1 - 28049 Madrid (Spain)

María Llorens-Martín (PI)
+34 911964632