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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2007 Sep;88(2):249-59. Epub 2007 Jun 22.

Neurogenesis decreases with age in the canine hippocampus and correlates with cognitive function.

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Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia, University of California, 1226 Gillespie Neuroscience Research Facility, Irvine, CA 92697-4540, USA.


New neurons are continually produced in the adult mammalian brain from progenitor cells located in specific brain regions, including the subgranular zone (SGZ) of the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. We hypothesized that neurogenesis occurs in the canine brain and is reduced with age. We examined neurogenesis in the hippocampus of five young and five aged animals using doublecortin (DCX) and bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) immunostaining. The total unilateral number of new neurons in the canine SGZ and granule cell layer (GCL) was estimated using stereological techniques based upon unbiased principles of systematic uniformly random sampling. Animals received 25mg/kg of BrdU once a day for 5 days and were euthanized 9 days after the last injection. We found evidence of neurogenesis in the canine brain and that cell genesis and neurogenesis are greatly reduced in the SGZ/GCL of aged animals compared to young. We further tested the hypothesis that an antioxidant fortified food or behavioral enrichment would improve neurogenesis in the aged canine brain and neurogenesis may correlate with cognitive function. Aged animals were treated for 2.8 years and tissue was available for six that received the antioxidant food, five that received the enrichment and six receiving both treatments. There were no significant differences in the absolute number of DCX or DCX-BrdU neurons or BrdU nuclei between the treatment groups compared to control animals. The number of DCX-positive neurons and double-labeled DCX-BrdU-positive neurons, but not BrdU-positive nuclei alone, significantly correlated with performance on several cognitive tasks including spatial memory and discrimination learning. These results suggest that new neurons in the aged canine dentate gyrus may participate in modulating cognitive functions.

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