During development of the central nervous system, expression of the microtubule binding protein doublecortin (DCX) is associated with migration of neuroblasts. In addition to this developmental role, expression of DCX remains high within certain areas of the adult mammalian brain. These areas, mainly the dentate gyrus and the lateral ventricle wall in conjunction with the rostral migratory stream and olfactory bulb, retain the capacity to generate new neurons into adulthood. Adult neurogenesis is typically detected by incorporation of bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) into dividing cells and colabeling of BrdU-positive cells with markers for mature neurons. To elucidate whether DCX could act as an alternative indicator for adult neurogenesis, we investigated the temporal expression pattern of DCX in neurogenic regions of the adult brain. Analysis of newly generated cells showed that DCX is transiently expressed in proliferating progenitor cells and newly generated neuroblasts. As the newly generated cells began expressing mature neuronal markers, DCX immunoreactivity decreased sharply below the level of detection and remained undetectable thereafter. The transient expression pattern of DCX in neuronal committed progenitor cells/neuroblasts indicates that DCX could be developed into a suitable marker for adult neurogenesis and may provide an alternative to BrdU labeling. This assumption is further supported by our observation that the number of DCX-expressing cells in the dentate gyrus was decreased with age according to the reduction of neurogenesis in the aging dentate gyrus previously reported.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.