One of the areas where neurogenesis occurs, the birth of neurons, is the hippocampus, a brain structure that determines many types of learning and memory, deciding what is remembered and what is forgotten.
In a new study published in Science, the laboratory of Sebastian Jessberger, has shown for the first time, in adult mice, the process by which neural stem cells are divided and newborn neurons are integrated into the hippocampus.
The study, led by Gregor Pilz and Sara Bottes, used images of in vivo photons and genetic labeling of neuronal stem cells to observe the divisions of stem cells as they occurred and thus be able to follow the maturation of new nerve cells. The team of Pilz and Botter made a fluorescent labeling of more than 60 cells and followed their route with images taken every 12 to 24 hours for two months. This allowed them to build what would be the family tree of the different cell lineages. By looking at the cells in action and over time, the team showed how most stem cells divide only a few times before they become neurons. These results offer an explanation of why the number of newborn cells decreases drastically with advancing age.
The authors said that this is just the beginning of many more experiments, aimed at understanding how our brains can form new nerve cells throughout life.