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Neuroplasticity in old age: sustained fivefold induction of hippocampal neurogenesis by long-term environmental enrichment

Item Type:Article
Title:Neuroplasticity in old age: sustained fivefold induction of hippocampal neurogenesis by long-term environmental enrichment
Creators Name:Kempermann, G. and Gast, D. and Gage, F.H.
Abstract:Neurons are continually born from endogenous stem cells and added to the dentate gyrus throughout life, but adult hippocampal neurogenesis declines precipitously with age. Short-term exposure to an enriched environment leads to a striking increase in new neurons, along with a substantial improvement in behavioral performance. Could this plastic response be relevant for explaining the beneficial effects of leading "an active life" on brain function and pathology? Adult hippocampal neurogenesis in mice living in an enriched environment from the age of 10 to 20 months was fivefold higher than in controls. Relatively, the increase in neuronal phenotypes was entirely at the expense of newly generated astrocytes. This cellular plasticity occurred in the context of significant improvements of learning parameters, exploratory behavior, and locomotor activity. Enriched living mice also had a reduced lipofuscin load in the dentate gyrus, indicating decreased nonspecific age-dependent degeneration. Therefore, in mice signs of neuronal aging can be diminished by a sustained active and challenging life, even if this stimulation started only at medium age. Activity exerts not only an acute but also a sustained effect on brain plasticity.
Keywords:Animal Behavior, Cell Division, Cell Survival, Corticosterone, Environment, Exploratory Behavior, Hippocampus, Lipofuscin, Maze Learning, Neuronal Plasticity, Neurons, Swimming, Time Factors, Animal, Mice
Source:Annals of Neurology
ISSN:0364-5134
Publisher:Wiley (U.S.A.)
Volume:52
Number:2
Page Range:135-143
Date:August 2002
Official Publication:https://doi.org/10.1002/ana.10262
PubMed:View item in PubMed

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