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      Structural plasticity of the hippocampus in response to estrogens in female rodents

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          It is well established that estrogens affect neuroplasticity in a number of brain regions. In particular, estrogens modulate and mediate spine and synapse formation as well as neurogenesis in the hippocampal formation. In this review, we discuss current research exploring the effects of estrogens on dendritic spine plasticity and neurogenesis with a focus on the modulating factors of sex, age, and pregnancy. Hormone levels, including those of estrogens, fluctuate widely across the lifespan from early life to puberty, through adulthood and into old age, as well as with pregnancy and parturition. Dendritic spine formation and modulation are altered both by rapid (likely non-genomic) and classical (genomic) actions of estrogens and have been suggested to play a role in the effects of estrogens on learning and memory. Neurogenesis in the hippocampus is influenced by age, the estrous cycle, pregnancy, and parity in female rodents. Furthermore, sex differences exist in hippocampal cellular and molecular responses to estrogens and are briefly discussed throughout. Understanding how structural plasticity in the hippocampus is affected by estrogens and how these effects can influence function and be influenced by other factors, such as experience and sex, is critical and can inform future treatments in conditions involving the hippocampus.

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          Most cited references 193

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          Transient and persistent dendritic spines in the neocortex in vivo.

          Dendritic spines were imaged over days to months in the apical tufts of neocortical pyramidal neurons (layers 5 and 2/3) in vivo. A fraction of thin spines appeared and disappeared over a few days, while most thick spines persisted for months. In the somatosensory cortex, from postnatal day (PND) 16 to PND 25 spine retractions exceeded additions, resulting in a net loss of spines. The fraction of persistent spines (lifetime > or = 8 days) grew gradually during development and into adulthood (PND 16-25, 35%; PND 35-80, 54%; PND 80-120, 66%; PND 175-225, 73%), providing evidence that synaptic circuits continue to stabilize even in the adult brain, long after the closure of known critical periods. In 6-month-old mice, spines turn over more slowly in visual compared to somatosensory cortex, possibly reflecting differences in the capacity for experience-dependent plasticity in these brain regions.
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            Dendritic protein synthesis, synaptic plasticity, and memory.

            Considerable evidence suggests that the formation of long-term memories requires a critical period of new protein synthesis. Recently, the notion that some of these newly synthesized proteins originate through local translation in neuronal dendrites has gained some traction. Here, we review the experimental support for this idea and highlight some of the key questions outstanding in this area.
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              The hippocampus and memory: insights from spatial processing.

              The hippocampus appears to be crucial for long-term episodic memory, yet its precise role remains elusive. Electrophysiological studies in rodents offer a useful starting point for developing models of hippocampal processing in the spatial domain. Here we review one such model that points to an essential role for the hippocampus in the construction of mental images. We explain how this neural-level mechanistic account addresses some of the current controversies in the field, such as the role of the hippocampus in imagery and short-term memory, and discuss its broader implications for the neural bases of episodic memory.

                Author and article information

                Mol Brain
                Mol Brain
                Molecular Brain
                BioMed Central (London )
                18 March 2019
                18 March 2019
                : 12
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2288 9830, GRID grid.17091.3e, Department of Psychology, Graduate Program in Neuroscience, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, , University of British Columbia, ; Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3 Canada
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 8198, GRID grid.34429.38, Department of Psychology & Neuroscience Program, , University of Guelph, ; Guelph, ON N1G 2W1 Canada
                © The Author(s). 2019

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000038, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada;
                Award ID: RGPIN-2018-04301
                Award ID: RGPIN-2018-400212
                Award Recipient :
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                © The Author(s) 2019


                neurogenesis, dendritic spines, sex differences, memory, depression, stress, aging, pregnancy, parity


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