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The social component of environmental enrichment is a pro-neurogenic stimulus in adult c57BL6 female mice

AuthorsMoreno-Jiménez, Elena P; Jurado-Arjona, Jerónimo CSIC; Ávila, Jesús CSIC ORCID ; Llorens-Martín, M. CSIC ORCID
KeywordsAdult hippocampal neurogenesis
Environmental enrichment
Social enrichment
Issue Date26-Apr-2019
CitationFront Cell Dev Biol 7 (2019)
AbstractIn 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.
Publisher version (URL)
Identifiersdoi: 10.3389/fcell.2019.00062
issn: 2296-634X
Appears in Collections:(CBM) Artículos

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