Lipocalin-2 regulates adult neurogenesis and contextual discriminative behaviours
In the adult mammalian brain, newborn granule cells are continuously integrated into hippocampal circuits, and the fine-tuning of this process is important for hippocampal function. Thus, the identification of factors that control adult neural stem cells (NSCs) maintenance, differentiation and integration is essential. Here we show that the deletion of the iron trafficking protein lipocalin-2 (LCN2) induces deficits in NSCs proliferation and commitment, with impact on the hippocampal-dependent contextual fear discriminative task. Mice deficient in LCN2 present an increase in the NSCs population, as a consequence of a G0/G1 cell cycle arrest induced by increased endogenous oxidative stress. Of notice, supplementation with the iron-chelating agent deferoxamine rescues NSCs oxidative stress, promotes cell cycle progression and improves contextual fear conditioning. LCN2 is, therefore, a novel key modulator of neurogenesis that, through iron, controls NSCs cell cycle progression and death, self-renewal, proliferation and differentiation and, ultimately, hippocampal function.