Running rewires the neuronal network of adult-born dentate granule cells

Neuroimage. 2016 May 1:131:29-41. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.11.031. Epub 2015 Nov 14.


Exercise improves cognition in humans and animals. Running increases neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, a brain area important for learning and memory. It is unclear how running modifies the circuitry of new dentate gyrus neurons to support their role in memory function. Here we combine retroviral labeling with rabies virus mediated trans-synaptic retrograde tracing to define and quantify new neuron afferent inputs in young adult male C57Bl/6 mice, housed with or without a running wheel for one month. Exercise resulted in a shift in new neuron networks that may promote sparse encoding and pattern separation. Neurogenesis increased in the dorsal, but not the ventral, dentate gyrus by three-fold, whereas afferent traced cell labeling doubled in number. Regional analysis indicated that running differentially affected specific inputs. Within the hippocampus the ratio of innervation from inhibitory interneurons and glutamatergic mossy cells to new neurons was reduced. Distal traced cells were located in sub-cortical and cortical regions, including perirhinal, entorhinal and sensory cortices. Innervation from entorhinal cortex (EC) was augmented, in proportion to the running-induced enhancement of adult neurogenesis. Within EC afferent input and short-term synaptic plasticity from lateral entorhinal cortex, considered to convey contextual information to the hippocampus was increased. Furthermore, running upregulated innervation from regions important for spatial memory and theta rhythm generation, including caudo-medial entorhinal cortex and subcortical medial septum, supra- and medial mammillary nuclei. Altogether, running may facilitate contextual, spatial and temporal information encoding by increasing adult hippocampal neurogenesis and by reorganization of new neuron circuitry.

Keywords: Adult neurogenesis; Entorhinal cortex; Exercise; Hippocampus; Neural circuitry; Rabies virus; Retrograde tracing; Retrovirus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cerebellar Nuclei / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Running / physiology*