Proliferation, migration, neuronal differentiation, and long-term survival of new cells in the adult zebrafish brain

J Comp Neurol. 2005 Aug 1;488(3):290-319. doi: 10.1002/cne.20571.


In contrast to mammals, fish exhibit an enormous potential to produce new cells in the adult brain. By labeling mitotically dividing cells with 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU), we have characterized the development of these cells in the zebrafish (Danio rerio). Proliferation zones were located in specific regions of the olfactory bulb, dorsal telencephalon (including a region presumably homologous to the mammalian hippocampus), preoptic area, dorsal zone of the periventricular hypothalamus, optic tectum, torus longitudinalis, vagal lobe, parenchyma near the rhombencephalic ventricle, and in a region of the medulla oblongata lateral to the vagal motor nucleus, as well as in all three subdivisions of the cerebellum, the valvula cerebelli, the corpus cerebelli, and the lobus caudalis cerebelli. In the valvula cerebelli and the corpus cerebelli, the young cells migrated from their site of origin in the molecular layers to the corresponding granule cell layers. By contrast, in the lobus caudalis cerebelli and optic tectum, no indication of a migration of the newly generated cells over wider distances could be obtained. BrdU-labeled cells remained present in the brain over at least 292 days post-BrdU administration, indicating a long-term survival of a significant portion of the newly generated cells. The combination of BrdU immunohistochemistry with immunolabeling against the neural marker protein Hu, or with retrograde tracing, suggested a neuronal differentiation in a large portion of the young cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / metabolism
  • Calbindins
  • Cell Count / methods
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • ELAV Proteins
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G / metabolism
  • S100 Proteins / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • Zebrafish / physiology*


  • Calbindins
  • ELAV Proteins
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G
  • S100 Proteins
  • Bromodeoxyuridine