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An increase in neural stem cells and olfactory bulb adult neurogenesis improves discrimination of highly similar odorants

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Sara Bragado Alonso, Janine K Reinert, Nicolas Marichal, Simone Massalini, Benedikt Berninger, Thomas Kuner, Federico Calegari

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere98791
JournalThe EMBO journal
Volume38
Issue number6
Early online date14 Jan 2019
DOIs
Accepted/In press15 Nov 2018
E-pub ahead of print14 Jan 2019
Published15 Mar 2019

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© 2019 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.

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Abstract

Adult neurogenesis is involved in cognitive performance but studies that manipulated this process to improve brain function are scarce. Here we characterized a genetic mouse model in which neural stem cells (NSC) of the subventricular zone (SVZ) were temporarily expanded by conditional expression of the cell cycle regulators Cdk4/cyclinD1, thus increasing neurogenesis. We found that supernumerary neurons matured and integrated in the olfactory bulb similarly to physiologically generated newborn neurons displaying a correct expression of molecular markers, morphology and electrophysiological activity. Olfactory performance upon increased neurogenesis was unchanged when mice were tested on relatively easy tasks using distinct odor stimuli. In contrast, intriguingly, increasing neurogenesis improved the discrimination ability of mice challenged in extremely difficult tasks using mixtures of very similar odorants. Together, our study provides a mammalian model to control the expansion of somatic stem cells that can in principle be applied to any tissue for basic research and models of therapy. By applying this to NSC of the SVZ, we highlighted the importance of adult neurogenesis to specifically improve performance in challenging olfactory tasks.

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