Autoradiographic and histological evidence of postnatal hippocampal neurogenesis in rats


  • This study was supported by the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission, and supplementary aid was received from the John A. Hartford Foundation. We wish to thank Elizabeth Altman, William J. Anderson and Louise Wasserman for their assistance in various phase of the program.


In the autoradiograms of young rats injected with thymidine-H3 many of the granule cells of the dentate gyrus were found labeled. The number of labeled cells declined rapidly with increased age at the time of injection. Histological studies showed the presence in young rats of a large germinal matrix of mitotic cells in the ependymal and subependymal layers of the third and lateral ventricles. The areal extent and cell population of this germinal pool declined rapidly from birth on, with a transient rise with a peak at about 15 days. During this latter period the number of “undifferentiated” cells near the granular layer of the dentate gyrus showed a rapid rise with a subsequent decline. The decline in the number of “undifferentiated” cells was accompanied by a rise in the number of differentiated granule cells. Cell counts in homologous parts of the dentate gyrus indicated a six-fold increase in the number of differentiated granule cells from birth to three months. We postulated that undifferentiated cells migrate postnatally from the forebrain ventricles to the hippocampus where they become differentiated. The possible functional significance of delayed hippocampal neurogenesis is discussed with reference to our finding of incorporation of testosterone-H3 by cells of the hippocampus, implicating that they may function as receptors of gonadal hormones.