Regulation and function of neurogenesis in the adult mammalian hypothalamus


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Abstract

HIGHLIGHTSOver the past two decades, evidence has accumulated neurogenesis can occur in the adult mammalian hypothalamus.Levels of adult hypothalamic neurogenesis are very low, age-dependent, and regulated by a range of physiological conditions.The source of newborn neurons is controversial. Tanycytes are the most likely candidate, although cells may contribute.Standardizing experimental protocols and model systems is likely to substantially accelerate future progress in the field.Studies of radial glial cell types such as retinal Müller glia may help identify genes regulating hypothalamic neurogenesis.Over the past two decades, evidence has accumulated that neurogenesis can occur in both the juvenile and adult mammalian hypothalamus. Levels of hypothalamic neurogenesis can be regulated by dietary, environmental and hormonal signals. Since the hypothalamus has a central role in controlling a broad range of homeostatic physiological processes, these findings may have far ranging behavioral and medical implications. However, many questions in the field remain unresolved, including the cells of origin of newborn hypothalamic neurons and the extent to which these cells actually regulate hypothalamic-controlled behaviors. In this manuscript, we conduct a critical review of the literature on postnatal hypothalamic neurogenesis in mammals, lay out the main outstanding controversies in the field, and discuss how best to advance our knowledge of this fascinating but still poorly understood process.

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