“New neurons continue to be generated in the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus of the adult mammalian hippocampus. This process has been linked to learning and memory, stress and exercise, and is thought to be altered in neurological disease. In humans, some studies have suggested that hundreds of new neurons are added to the adult dentate gyrus every day, whereas other studies find many fewer putative new neurons. Despite these discrepancies, it is generally believed that the adult human hippocampus continues to generate new neurons.” Here Sorrells and colleagues report that a defined population of progenitor cells does not coalesce in the subgranular zone during human fetal or postnatal development. They also find that the number of proliferating progenitors and young neurons in the dentate gyrus declines sharply during the first year of life and only a few isolated young neurons are observed by 7 and 13 years of age. In adult patients with epilepsy and healthy adults (18-77 years), young neurons were not detected in the dentate gyrus.

The authors concluded that “recruitment of young neurons to the primate hippocampus decreases rapidly during the first years of life, and that neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus does not continue, or is extremely rare, in adult humans. The early decline in hippocampal neurogenesis raises questions about how the function of the dentate gyrus differs between humans and other species in which adult hippocampal neurogenesis is preserved.”


Sorrells SF, Paredes MF, Cebrian-Silla A, Sandoval K, Qi D, Kelley KW, James D, Mayer S, Chang J, Auguste KI, Chang EF, Gutierrez AJ, Kriegstein AR, Mathem GW, Oldham MC, Huang EJ, Garcia-Verdugo JM, Yang Z, Alvarez-Buylla A: Human hippocampal neurogenesis drops sharply in children to undetectable levels in adults. Nature [ Epub ahead of print; March 7, 2018; doi: 10.1038/nature25975 ].


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