Role of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in stress resilience

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There is a growing appreciation that adult hippocampal neurogenesis plays a role in emotional and cognitive processes related to psychiatric disorders. Although many studies have investigated the effects of stress on adult hippocampal neurogenesis, most have not focused on whether stress-induced changes in neurogenesis occur specifically in animals that are more resilient or more susceptible to the behavioural and neuroendocrine effects of stress. Thus, in the present review we explore whether there is a clear relationship between stress-induced changes in adult hippocampal neurogenesis, stress resilience and antidepressant-induced recovery from stress-induced changes in behaviour. Exposure to different stressors is known to reduce adult hippocampal neurogenesis, but some stressors have also been shown to exert opposite effects. Ablation of neurogenesis does not lead to a depressive phenotype, but it can enhance responsiveness to stress and affect stress susceptibility. Monoaminergic-targeted antidepressants, environmental enrichment and adrenalectomy are beneficial for reversing stress-induced changes in behaviour and have been shown to do so in a neurogenesis-dependant manner. In addition, stress and antidepressants can affect hippocampal neurogenesis, preferentially in the ventral hippocampus. Together, these data show that adult hippocampal neurogenesis may play a role in the neuroendocrine and behavioural responses to stress, although it is not yet fully clear under which circumstances neurogenesis promotes resilience or susceptibility to stress. It will be important that future studies carefully examine how adult hippocampal neurogenesis can contribute to stress resilience/susceptibility so that it may be appropriately exploited for the development of new and more effective treatments for stressrelated psychiatric disorders.




Levone, B. R., Cryan, J. F., & O’Leary, O. F. (2015). Role of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in stress resilience. Neurobiology of Stress. Elsevier Inc.

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