Adult hippocampal neurogenesis inversely correlates with microglia in conditions of voluntary running and aging

Front Neurosci. 2013 Aug 20:7:145. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2013.00145. eCollection 2013.


Adult hippocampal neurogenesis results in the formation of new neurons and is a process of brain plasticity involved in learning and memory. The proliferation of adult neural stem or progenitor cells is regulated by several extrinsic factors such as experience, disease or aging and intrinsic factors originating from the neurogenic niche. Microglia is very abundant in the dentate gyrus (DG) and increasing evidence indicates that these cells mediate the inflammation-induced reduction in neurogenesis. However, the role of microglia in neurogenesis in physiological conditions remains poorly understood. In this study, we monitored microglia and the proliferation of adult hippocampal stem/progenitor cells in physiological conditions known to increase or decrease adult neurogenesis, voluntary running and aging respectively. We found that the number of microglia in the DG was strongly inversely correlated with the number of stem/progenitor cells and cell proliferation in the granule cell layer. Accordingly, co-cultures of decreasing neural progenitor/glia ratio showed that microglia but not astroglia reduced the number of progenitor cells. Together, these results suggest that microglia inhibits the proliferation of neural stem/progenitor cells despite the absence of inflammatory stimulus.

Keywords: adult neurogenesis; aging; dentate gyrus; microglia; running.