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      Hippocampal Neurogenesis, Cognitive Deficits and Affective Disorder in Huntington's Disease

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          Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a tandem repeat expansion encoding a polyglutamine tract in the huntingtin protein. HD involves progressive psychiatric, cognitive, and motor symptoms, the selective pathogenesis of which remains to be mechanistically elucidated. There are a range of different brain regions, including the cerebral cortex and striatum, known to be affected in HD, with evidence for hippocampal dysfunction accumulating in recent years. In this review we will focus on hippocampal abnormalities, in particular, deficits of adult neurogenesis. We will discuss potential molecular mechanisms mediating disrupted hippocampal neurogenesis, and how this deficit of cellular plasticity may in turn contribute to specific cognitive and affective symptoms that are prominent in HD. The generation of transgenic animal models of HD has greatly facilitated our understanding of disease mechanisms at molecular, cellular, and systems levels. Transgenic HD mice have been found to show progressive behavioral changes, including affective, cognitive, and motor abnormalities. The discovery, in multiple transgenic lines of HD mice, that adult hippocampal neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity is disrupted, may help explain specific aspects of cognitive and affective dysfunction. Furthermore, these mouse models have provided insight into potential molecular mediators of adult neurogenesis deficits, such as disrupted serotonergic and neurotrophin signaling. Finally, a number of environmental and pharmacological interventions which are known to enhance adult hippocampal neurogenesis have been found to have beneficial affective and cognitive effects in mouse models, suggesting common molecular targets which may have therapeutic utility for HD and related diseases.

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          Most cited references 84

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          Neurogenesis in the adult human hippocampus.

          The genesis of new cells, including neurons, in the adult human brain has not yet been demonstrated. This study was undertaken to investigate whether neurogenesis occurs in the adult human brain, in regions previously identified as neurogenic in adult rodents and monkeys. Human brain tissue was obtained postmortem from patients who had been treated with the thymidine analog, bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU), that labels DNA during the S phase. Using immunofluorescent labeling for BrdU and for one of the neuronal markers, NeuN, calbindin or neuron specific enolase (NSE), we demonstrate that new neurons, as defined by these markers, are generated from dividing progenitor cells in the dentate gyrus of adult humans. Our results further indicate that the human hippocampus retains its ability to generate neurons throughout life.
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            Requirement of hippocampal neurogenesis for the behavioral effects of antidepressants.

            Various chronic antidepressant treatments increase adult hippocampal neurogenesis, but the functional importance of this phenomenon remains unclear. Here, using genetic and radiological methods, we show that disrupting antidepressant-induced neurogenesis blocks behavioral responses to antidepressants. Serotonin 1A receptor null mice were insensitive to the neurogenic and behavioral effects of fluoxetine, a serotonin selective reuptake inhibitor. X-irradiation of a restricted region of mouse brain containing the hippocampus prevented the neurogenic and behavioral effects of two classes of antidepressants. These findings suggest that the behavioral effects of chronic antidepressants may be mediated by the stimulation of neurogenesis in the hippocampus.
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              Memory and the hippocampus: a synthesis from findings with rats, monkeys, and humans.

               Larry Squire (1992)
              This article considers the role of the hippocampus in memory function. A central thesis is that work with rats, monkeys, and humans--which has sometimes seemed to proceed independently in 3 separate literatures--is now largely in agreement about the function of the hippocampus and related structures. A biological perspective is presented, which proposes multiple memory systems with different functions and distinct anatomical organizations. The hippocampus (together with anatomically related structures) is essential for a specific kind of memory, here termed declarative memory (similar terms include explicit and relational). Declarative memory is contrasted with a heterogeneous collection of nondeclarative (implicit) memory abilities that do not require the hippocampus (skills and habits, simple conditioning, and the phenomenon of priming). The hippocampus is needed temporarily to bind together distributed sites in neocortex that together represent a whole memory.

                Author and article information

                Neural Plast
                Neural Plast
                Neural Plasticity
                Hindawi Publishing Corporation
                27 June 2012
                : 2012
                1Florey Neuroscience Institutes, Melbourne Brain Centre, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia
                2Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia
                Author notes

                Academic Editor: Cara J. Westmark

                Copyright © 2012 Mark I. Ransome et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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