Matrix signalling and hippocampal neurogenesis
Rooney, Alasdair Grant
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The adult mammalian brain harbours at least two germinal - or neurogenic - niches in which new neurons are born throughout life. These neurogenic niches comprise the subependymal zone which lines the ventricular system, and the subgranular zone in the hippocampal dentate gyrus. Post-natal hippocampal neurogenesis was in fact first identified experimentally in the 1960s. However perhaps due partly to aforementioned institutionalised belief and partly to a lack of accessible experimental tools, the phenomenon of hippocampal neurogenesis was widely recognised by the scientific community only shortly before the millennium. Consequent study has established that adult hippocampal neurogenesis has been conserved through millions of years of evolution in nearly every mammalian species studied to date. Importantly, post-mortem studies and radioisotope carbon dating techniques suggest that it also occurs in humans.A great deal of this research has focused on understanding the inner workings of the cells that undergo the transformation to become new adult-born neurons. By contrast, relatively little is known about the potential regulatory role of the surrounding extracellular microenvironment. This might be useful to know in light of much evidence that the extracellular matrix is a key regulator of developmental neurogenesis.This thesis describes my study of whether extracellular matrix regulates hippocampal neurogenesis.