Summary: In the olfactory bulb, oxytocin levels rise and peak as new neurons integrate into neural networks. The findings shed new light on adult neurogenesis and brain plasticity.
Source: Baylor College of Medicine
Learning a new task, mastering a musical instrument, or being able to adapt to the ever-changing environment are all possible thanks to the plasticity of the brain, or its ability to change itself by rearranging existing neural networks and changing them. forming new ones to acquire new functional properties. It also helps keep neural circuits healthy, robust, and stable.
To better understand brain plasticity, a team of researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital used mouse models to study how brain cells make connections with new neurons born in the adult brain.
Their findings, published in the journal Genes & Developmentnot only expand our understanding of brain plasticity, but also open up new possibilities for treating certain neurodevelopmental disorders and repairing damaged circuits in the future.
“In this study, we wanted to identify new molecules that help new neurons make connections in the brain,” said corresponding author Dr. Benjamin R. Arenkiel, professor of molecular and human genetics and neuroscience at Baylor. and at the Duncan Neurological Research Institute in Texas. Children.
“We worked with the olfactory bulb, the part of the brain involved in smell. In mice, the olfactory bulb is a highly plastic sensory area and has a remarkable ability to maintain plasticity in adulthood via the continuous integration of neurons born into adulthood. We discovered that oxytocin, a short peptide or protein, produced in the brain, drives events that contribute to the plasticity of the neural circuit.
The researchers found that oxytocin levels increase in the olfactory bulb, peaking as new neurons integrate into neural networks.
Using viral labeling, confocal microscopy and cell type-specific RNA sequencing, the team found that oxytocin triggers a signaling pathway – a series of molecular events inside cells – that promotes the maturation of synapses, i.e. newly integrated adult connections. neurons. When the researchers knocked out the oxytocin receptor, the cells had underdeveloped synapses and impaired function.
“Importantly, we found that synapse maturation occurs by regulating cell morphological development and the expression of a number of structural proteins,” said Arenkiel, a MacNair fellow at Baylor.
“The most exciting aspect of this study is that our results suggest that oxytocin stimulates the development and synaptic integration of new neurons in the adult brain, directly contributing to circuit adaptability and plasticity,” said said first author Brandon T. Pekarek, a graduate student. assistant in the Arenkiel laboratory.
The findings, which are relevant to all mammals, including humans, open up new possibilities for improving neurological conditions.
“Oxytocin is normally present in our brains, so if we understand how to turn it on or off or mobilize it, we can help keep our circuit connections healthy by promoting the growth of underdeveloped connections or by reinforcing news,” Arenkiel said.
“Our results also suggest that oxytocin may promote the growth of new neurons to repair damaged tissue. Further studies are needed to explore these possibilities.
About this neuroplasticity and neurogenesis research news
Author: Press office
Source: Baylor College of Medicine
Contact: Press Office – Baylor College of Medicine
Image: Image is in public domain
Original research: Access closed.
“Oxytocin signaling is required for synaptic maturation of neurons born into adulthood” by Brandon T. Pekarek et al. Genes & Development
Oxytocin signaling is required for synaptic maturation of neurons born into adulthood
The plasticity of neural circuits and the dynamics of sensory responses depend on the formation of new synaptic connections. Despite recent advances in understanding the consequences of circuit plasticity, the mechanisms driving circuit plasticity are unknown.
Neurons born as adults in the olfactory bulb have proven to be a powerful model for studying circuit plasticity, providing a broad and accessible pathway for neuron circuit development, migration, and integration.
We and others have shown that efficient circuit integration of neurals born into adulthood depends on presynaptic activity in the form of various signaling peptides.
Here, we demonstrate a novel oxytocin-dependent mechanism of adult-born neuron synaptic maturation and circuit integration.
We reveal spatial and temporal enrichment of oxytocin receptor expression in adult-born neurons in the murine olfactory bulb, with peak oxytocin receptor expression upon integration activity dependent.
Using viral labeling, confocal microscopy, and cell type-specific RNA-seq, we demonstrate that oxytocin receptor signaling promotes synaptic maturation of newly integrated adult born neurons by regulating their development morphology and expression of mature synaptic AMPARs and other structural proteins.
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