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Quantitative analysis of postnatal neurogenesis and neuron number in the macaque monkey dentate gyrus

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Abstract

The dentate gyrus is one of only two regions of the mammalian brain where substantial neurogenesis occurs postnatally. However, detailed quantitative information about the postnatal structural maturation of the primate dentate gyrus is meager. We performed design-based, stereological studies of neuron number and size, and volume of the dentate gyrus layers in rhesus macaque monkeys (Macaca mulatta) of different postnatal ages. We found that about 40% of the total number of granule cells observed in mature 5–10-year-old macaque monkeys are added to the granule cell layer postnatally; 25% of these neurons are added within the first three postnatal months. Accordingly, cell proliferation and neurogenesis within the dentate gyrus peak within the first 3 months after birth and remain at an intermediate level between 3 months and at least 1 year of age. Although granule cell bodies undergo their largest increase in size during the first year of life, cell size and the volume of the three layers of the dentate gyrus (i.e. the molecular, granule cell and polymorphic layers) continue to increase beyond 1 year of age. Moreover, the different layers of the dentate gyrus exhibit distinct volumetric changes during postnatal development. Finally, we observe significant levels of cell proliferation, neurogenesis and cell death in the context of an overall stable number of granule cells in mature 5–10-year-old monkeys. These data identify an extended developmental period during which neurogenesis might be modulated to significantly impact the structure and function of the dentate gyrus in adulthood.
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Keywords: development; hippocampus; infantile amnesia; memory; neurodevelopmental disorder; stereology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Development, Department of Medicine, Unit of Physiology, University of Fribourg, Switzerland 2: Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Center for Neuroscience, California National Primate Research Center, The M.I.N.D. Institute, UC Davis, USA

Publication date: 01 January 2010

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