Impaired long-term memory retention: common denominator for acutely or genetically reduced hippocampal neurogenesis in adult mice

Behav Brain Res. 2013 Sep 1:252:275-86. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.05.034. Epub 2013 May 25.


In adult rodents, decreasing hippocampal neurogenesis experimentally using different approaches often impairs performance in hippocampus-dependent processes. Nonetheless, functional relevance of adult neurogenesis is far from being unraveled, and deficits so far described in animal models often lack reproducibility. One hypothesis is that such differences might be the consequence of the extent of the methodological specificity used to alter neurogenesis rather than the extent to which adult neurogenesis is altered. To address this, we focused on cranial irradiation, the most widely used technique to impair hippocampal neurogenesis and consequentially induce hippocampus-dependent behavioral deficits. To investigate the specificity of the technique, we thus exposed 4-5 months old female cyclin D2 knockout mice, a model lacking physiological levels of olfactory and hippocampal neurogenesis, to an X-ray dose of 10 Gy, reported to specifically affect transiently amplifying precursors. After a recovery period of 1.5 months, behavioral tests were performed and probed for locomotor activity, habituation, anxiety, and spatial learning and memory. Spatial learning in the Morris water maze was intact in all experimental groups. Although spatial memory retention assessed 24h following acquisition was also intact in all mice, irradiated wild type and cyclin D2 knockout mice displayed memory deficits one week after acquisition. In addition, we observed significant differences in tests addressing anxiety and locomotor activity dependent on the technique used to alter neurogenesis. Whereas irradiated mice were hyperactive regardless of their genotype, cyclin D2 knockout mice were hypoactive in most of the tests and displayed altered habituation. The present study emphasizes that different approaches aimed at decreasing adult hippocampal neurogenesis may result in distinct behavioral impairments related to locomotion and anxiety. In contrast, spatial long-term memory retention is consistently altered after both approaches suggesting a plausible implication of hippocampal neurogenesis in this cognitive process.

Keywords: ANOVA; Anxiety; Cyclin D2; DG; Gy; Hippocampus; Irradiation; KO; Long-term memory; Neurogenesis; SEM; TLX; WT; analysis of variance; cD2; cyclin d2; dentate gyrus; gray; knockout; nuclear orphan receptor tailless gene; standard error of the mean; wild type.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics
  • Adaptation, Physiological / radiation effects
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Cyclin D2 / deficiency
  • Cyclin D2 / genetics
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology
  • Exploratory Behavior / radiation effects
  • Female
  • Locomotion / genetics
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Maze Learning / radiation effects
  • Memory Disorders* / genetics
  • Memory Disorders* / pathology
  • Memory Disorders* / physiopathology
  • Memory, Long-Term / physiology*
  • Memory, Long-Term / radiation effects
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurogenesis / genetics
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Neurogenesis / radiation effects
  • Organ Size / genetics
  • Organ Size / radiation effects
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology*
  • Retention, Psychology / radiation effects
  • X-Rays


  • Ccnd2 protein, mouse
  • Cyclin D2