Aberrant Neurogenesis After Stroke
A Retroviral Cell Labeling Study
Background and Purpose—Adult neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus is a unique form of brain plasticity that is strongly stimulated after stroke. We investigate the morphological properties of new granule cells, which are born and develop after the ischemic insult, and query whether these adult-born neurons properly integrate into the pre-existing hippocampal circuitries.
Methods—Two well-established models were used to induce either small cortical infarcts (photothrombosis model) or large territorial infarcts (transient middle cerebral artery occlusion model). New granule cells were labeled 4 days after the initial insult by intrahippocampal injection of a retroviral vector encoding green fluorescent protein and newborn neurons were morphologically analyzed using a semiautomatic Neurolucida system and confocal laser scanning microscopy at 6 weeks.
Results—Approximately 5% to 10% of newborn granule cells displayed significant morphological abnormalities comprising additional basal dendrites and, after middle cerebral artery occlusion, also ectopic cell position. The extent of morphological abnormalities was higher after large territorial infarcts and seems to depend on the severity of ischemic damage. An increased portion of mushroom spines in aberrant neurons suggests stable synaptic integration. However, poststroke generated granule cells with regular appearance also demonstrate alterations in dendritic complexity and spine morphology.
Conclusions—The remarkable stimulation of dentate neurogenesis after stroke coincides with an increased rate of aberrantly integrated neurons, which may contribute to functional impairments and, hypothetically, favor pathogenesis of adjustment disorders, cognitive deficits, or epilepsy often seen in stroke patients.
- Received April 14, 2012.
- Accepted May 18, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.