RNA-Dependent Intergenerational Inheritance of Enhanced Synaptic Plasticity after Environmental Enrichment

Cell Rep. 2018 Apr 10;23(2):546-554. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.03.059.


Physical exercise in combination with cognitive training is known to enhance synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory and lower the risk for various complex diseases including Alzheimer's disease. Here, we show that exposure of adult male mice to an environmental enrichment paradigm leads to enhancement of synaptic plasticity and cognition also in the next generation. We show that this effect is mediated through sperm RNA and especially miRs 212/132. In conclusion, our study reports intergenerational inheritance of an acquired cognitive benefit and points to specific miRs as candidates mechanistically involved in this type of transmission.

Keywords: brain; cognition; environmental enrichment; epigenetics; exercise; intergenerational; memory; microRNA; transgenerational.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • MicroRNAs / chemistry
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*
  • RNA / chemistry
  • RNA / isolation & purification
  • RNA / metabolism*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Social Environment
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism


  • MIRN132 microRNA, rat
  • MIRN212 microRNA, rat
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA