It is agreed upon that adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) occurs in the dentate gyrus (DG) in rodents. However, the existence of AHN in humans, particularly in elderly individuals, remains to be determined. Recently, several studies reported that neural progenitor cells, neuroblasts, and immature neurons were detected in the hippocampus of elderly humans, based on the expressions of putative markers for these cells, claiming that this provides evidence of the persistence of AHN in humans. Herein, we briefly overview the phenomenon that we call "dematuration," in which mature neurons dedifferentiate to a pseudo-immature status and re-express the molecular markers of neural progenitor cells and immature neurons. Various conditions can easily induce dematuration, such as inflammation and hyper-excitation of neurons, and therefore, the markers for neural progenitor cells and immature neurons may not necessarily serve as markers for AHN. Thus, the aforementioned studies have not presented definitive evidence for the persistence of hippocampal neurogenesis throughout adult life in humans, and we would like to emphasize that those markers should be used cautiously when presented as evidence for AHN. Increasing AHN has been considered as a therapeutic target for Alzheimer's disease (AD); however, given that immature neuronal markers can be re-expressed in mature adult neurons, independent of AHN, in various disease conditions including AD, strategies to increase the expression of these markers in the DG may be ineffective or may worsen the symptoms of such diseases.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience