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J Comp Neurol. 2008 Jan 10;506(2):339-46.

Age-dependent effect of nitric oxide on subventricular zone and olfactory bulb neural precursor proliferation.

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Area de Fisiología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Cádiz, 11003 Cádiz, Spain.


Nitric oxide (NO) synthase (NOS) is developmentally regulated in the embryonic brain, where NO participates in cell proliferation, survival, and differentiation. In adults, NO inhibits neurogenesis under physiological conditions. This work investigates whether the NO action is preserved all along development up to adulthood or whether its effects in adults are a new feature acquired during brain maturation. The relationship between nitrergic neurons and precursors, as well as the functional consequences of pharmacological NOS inhibition, were comparatively analyzed in the subventricular zone (SVZ) and olfactory bulb (OB) of postnatal (P7) and adult (>P60) mouse brains. The SVZ was markedly reduced between P7 and adults, and, at both ages, neurons expressing neuronal NOS (nNOS) were found in its striatal limits. In postnatal mice, these nitrergic neurons contained PSA-NCAM, and their projections were scarce, whereas, in adults, mature nitrergic neurons, devoid of PSA-NCAM, presented abundant neuropil. In the OB, local proliferation almost disappeared in the transition to adulthood, and periglomerular nitrergic neurons, some of which were PSA-NCAM positive, were found in postnatal and adult mice. Administration of the NOS inhibitor L-NAME did not affect cell proliferation in the SVZ or in the OB of postnatal mice, whereas it significantly enhanced the number of mitotic cells in both regions in adults. Thus, the NO action on SVZ neurogenesis is a phenomenon that appears after the postnatal age, which is probably due to the germinal layer size reduction, allowing exposure of the NO-sensitive neural precursors to the NO produced in the SVZ-striatum limits.

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