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Environmental Enrichment Rescues Plasticity of Serotonergic Neurons

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Title: Environmental Enrichment Rescues Plasticity of Serotonergic Neurons
Author(s): Pazos Boubeta, Yago
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Degree program: Master's Programme in Neuroscience
Specialisation: Neuroscience
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2019
Neurotrophin, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its cognate receptor Tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB), have been concomitantly linked with neuronal plasticity as well as antidepressant mechanism of action. Adult hippocampal neurogenesis involves proliferation and survival of new-born neurons and has been related to antidepressant mechanisms and cognitive improvement. Environmental enrichment (EE) enhances adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) and induces anxiolytic-like effects. This study postulates that EE-living conditions could restore the abnormal serotonergic modulation on AHN of our transgenic mice. In this study, a transgenic mouse line wherein TrkB receptor is compromised from serotonergic neurons and AHN found to be impaired was used. To assess the behavioural effects and the changes in learning and memory tasks produced by 10-weeks of EE, a behavioural battery test was performed. Our results suggested anxiolytic-like effects from EE in the transgenic mice. Likewise, cognitive improvements were also observed in both control and transgenic mice promoted by EE. Moreover, hyperactivity observed in transgenic mice in standard conditions could be rescued, and no phenotypical differences were observed between control and transgenic mice subjected to EE. To further study the effects of EE on AHN, cellular proliferation and survival were studied through the incorporation of BrdU. The results indicate that the abnormal serotonergic regulation of AHN was rescued upon EE-living conditions. Moreover, molecular methods used to measure the alteration of gene expression revealed significant upregulation of genes related to neuronal plasticity and epigenetic modifications. Altogether, these results suggest EE promotes the neuronal plasticity, rescues the impaired regulation of AHN and modulates the genetic expression of the transgenic mice. Findings from this study could provide new insights regarding novel targets that could modulate adult brain plasticity.
Keyword(s): Adult hippocampal neurogenesis Anxiolytic like-effects BDNF-TrkB signalling Environmental enrichment Memory enhancement Serotonin

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