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Neurogenesis in the adult brain: The association with stress and depression
Date:8/31/2008

an not only stimulate neurogenesis, but also exert similar stimulatory effects on gliogenesis. Moreover, animal studies have recently shown that chronic stress inhibits cell proliferation not only in the hippocampus but also in the prefrontal cortex, and that this inhibitory effect can be counteracted by antidepressant treatment (Czh et al., 2007). The significance of these observations is strengthened by in vivo neuroimaging studies in patients with mood disorders that consistently point to the involvement of prefrontal brain sites in the pathophysiology of the disease. These imaging findings are further supported by reports on human post-mortem tissues revealing that the number of glial cells in the prefrontal cortex is adversely affected in patients with mood disorders.

Experiments show that stress and depression inhibit the growth of new nerve cells as well as glial support cells, and that this inhibitory effect can be counteracted by antidepressive therapy.

Clinical implications

  • Within the last two decades, the understanding of the mature brain has changed: Neuronal and glial cell networks in the brain are far from being fixed and immutable a multitude of factors such as environmental stimulation, learning, growth factors, glucocorticoids, sexual hormones, stress, aging, and several neurotransmitters regulate the generation of new neurons. Antidepressants stimulate the growth of neurons and glial cells again so the brain changes that occur as a consequence of stress and depression are generally reversible.

  • Today it is widely believed that neurogenesis in the adult brain is restricted to selected brain regions such as zones of the hippocampus and the lateral brain ventricles. However, a growing number of recent studies describe the generation of new neurons also in the adult neocortex. Although small in both number and size, these new cells could have a significant impact on neocortical function.


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Contact: Sonja Mak
s.mak@update.europe.at
43-140-557-340
European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
Source:Eurekalert

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