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Mol Neurodegener. 2009 Dec 21;4:52. doi: 10.1186/1750-1326-4-52.

Regulation of hippocampal progenitor cell survival, proliferation and dendritic development by BDNF.

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Committee on Neurobiology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.



Environmental enrichment (EE) is known to enhance BDNF levels and neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus. To examine the role of BDNF in modulating EE-mediated adult hippocampal neurogenesis, we conditionally ablated BDNF expression in the hippocampus (cKO mice) and have assessed proliferation, survival, differentiation and dendritic development of hippocampal progenitors.


We show that while the extent of cell proliferation and neuronal fate differentiation in the hippocampus of cKO mice is not different from wild-type (WT) littermates maintained in either standard or enriched conditions, reduced BDNF levels significantly impaired the survival of newborn cells in both housing conditions. In addition, while highly active enriched WT mice exhibited a robust increase in progenitor cell proliferation, highly active cKO mice showed a modest increase in cell proliferation compared to standard housed or underactive cKO mice.


There results argue that while BDNF plays a role in exercise-induced cell proliferation, other factors must contribute to this phenomenon. We also show that dendritic development was impaired in cKO mice maintained in standard housing conditions, and that EE rescued this phenotype.

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