Role of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in cognition in physiology and disease: pharmacological targets and biomarkers

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Adult hippocampal neurogenesis is a remarkable form of brain structural plasticity by which new functional neurons are generated from adult neural stem cells/precursors. Although the precise role of this process remains elusive, adult hippocampal neurogenesis is important for learning and memory and it is affected in disease conditions associated with cognitive impairment, depression, and anxiety. Immature neurons in the adult brain exhibit an enhanced structural and synaptic plasticity during their maturation representing a unique population of neurons to mediate specific hippocampal function. Compelling preclinical evidence suggests that hippocampal neurogenesis is modulated by a broad range of physiological stimuli which are relevant in cognitive and emotional states. Moreover, multiple pharmacological interventions targeting cognition modulate adult hippocampal neurogenesis. In addition, recent genetic approaches have shown that promoting neurogenesis can positively modulate cognition associated with both physiology and disease. Thus the discovery of signaling pathways that enhance adult neurogenesis may lead to therapeutic strategies for improving memory loss due to aging or disease. This chapter endeavors to review the literature in the field, with particular focus on (1) the role of hippocampal neurogenesis in cognition in physiology and disease; (2) extrinsic and intrinsic signals that modulate hippocampal neurogenesis with a focus on pharmacological targets; and (3) efforts toward novel strategies pharmacologically targeting neurogenesis and identification of biomarkers of human neurogenesis.




Costa, V., Lugert, S., & Jagasia, R. (2015). Role of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in cognition in physiology and disease: pharmacological targets and biomarkers. Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, 228, 99–155.

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