The functional role of adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus remains the subject of intense speculation. One recent hypothesis is that adult-born neurons contribute to the endocrine and behavioural outputs of the stress response.
Researchers show a genetic model system to ablate neurogenesis by inducibly deleting Tbr2 gene function specifically in the hippocampus and corroborate.
They found that mice with ablation of new neurons in the dentate gyrus exhibit reduced anxiety during the dark cycle.
After restraint stress, corticosterone levels in neurogenesis-deficient mice decreased more quickly than controls and were more sensitive to suppression by dexamethasone.
Furthermore, glucocorticoid receptor target genes and neuronal activity markers showed reduced expression after stress in neurogenesis-deficient mice.
These findings suggest that newborn neurons in the hippocampus are involved in sensing and eliciting an appropriate response to stress.