Background: The term adult neurogenesis constitutes a series of developmental steps including the birth, survival, differentiation, maturation, and even death of newborn progenitor cells within neurogenic niches. Within the hippocampus progenitors reside in the neurogenic niche of the subgranular zone in the dentate gyrus subfield. At the different stages, designated type-I, type-IIa, type-IIb, type-III, and granule cell neurons, the cells express a series of markers enabling their identification and visualization. Lithium has been shown to increase hippocampal cell proliferation in the subgranular zone of the hippocampal dentate gyrus subfield of adult rodents and to stimulate the proliferation of hippocampal progenitor cells in vitro, but data regarding lithium's ability to increase neuronal differentiation and survival is equivocal. Methods: To clarify the effect of lithium on adult hippocampal neurogenesis, we identified the effect of chronic lithium treatment on distinct stages of hippocampal progenitor development using adult Nestin-green fluorescent protein transgenic mice and immunofluorescent techniques. Results: The present observations confirm that lithium targets the initial stages of progenitor development enhancing the turnover of quiescent neural progenitors/putative stem-cells, corroborating previous reports. However, the enhanced quiescent neural progenitor-turnover does not translate into an increased number of immature neurons. We also observed a steep decline in the number of type-III immature neurons with complex tertiary-dendrites, suggesting that lithium alters the morphological maturation of newborn neurons. Conclusions: Our results do not corroborate previous reports of lithium-induced enhanced numbers of newly generated neurons.
- Immature neurons
- Nestin-GFP transgenic mice
- Quiescent neural progenitor cells