Featuring the work of former CURE Grantee Janice Naegele
Adult neurogenesis, a process whereby new neurons are added to the brain, is thought to be confined in mammals to just a few regions, including the hippocampus, a structure important for learning. Whether this process occurs in the adult human brain is controversial, but in most other mammals that have been studied, adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus appears to be essential for forming memories.
Producing new neurons in the adult hippocampus is regulated by the environment, mood, exercise, diet, and disease. In some forms of epilepsy, the production of new cells in the hippocampus, called granule cells, becomes highly abnormal and the altered neurogenesis is thought to increase over-excitation and exacerbate seizures.
In the Naegele laboratory at Wesleyan, researchers are studying whether neural stem cell transplantation can reduce this abnormal adult neurogenesis in mice that have temporal lobe epilepsy. The research is spearheaded by Janice Naegele, the Alan M. Dachs Professor of Science; professor of biology; and professor, neuroscience and behavior.
“Our prior studies in mice with epilepsy showed that transplanting inhibitory neurons from the embryonic mouse brain into the adult mouse hippocampus reorganized neural circuits in the hippocampus and reduced seizures,” Naegele said. “In our most recent study, we asked whether transplanted inhibitory neurons formed functional synaptic connections with adult-born hippocampal neurons generated after the onset of epilepsy.”