Postnatal neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of the guinea pig



In all species examined, the dentate gyrus develops over an extended period that begins during gestation and continues up to adulthood. The aim of this study was to investigate the pattern of postnatal cell production in the dentate gyrus of the guinea pig, a rodent whose brain development has features more closely resembling the human condition than the most commonly used rodents (rat and mouse). Animals of different postnatal (P) ages received one or multiple injections of bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU), and the number of labeled cells in the dentate gyrus was counted after time intervals of 24 h or longer. The total granule cell number and the volume of the granule cell layer were evaluated in Nissl-stained brain sections from P1 and P30 animals. P1–P5 animals were treated with MK-801 to analyze the effect of NMDA receptor blockade on cell proliferation. Cell production occurred at a high rate (9,000–13,000 labeled cells 24 h after one injection) from P1 to P20, with a peak at 3–6 days of age, and then slowly declined from P20 to P30. The production of new cells continued in adult animals, although at a much-reduced rate (400 cells 24 h after one injection). About 20% of the labeled cells survived after a 17-day period and most (60%) of these cells had a neuronal phenotype. The total number of granule cells increased over the first postnatal month; in 30-day-old animals, it was 20% greater than in 1-day-old animals. Administration of MK-801 to P1–P5 animals caused an increase in cell proliferation restricted to the dorsal dentate gyrus. The present data show that, although the guinea pig dentate gyrus develops largely before birth, the production of new neurons continues at a high rate during the first postnatal month, leading to a considerable increase in cell number. This developmental pattern, resembling the human and nonhuman primate condition, may make the guinea pig a useful rodent model in developmental studies on dentate gyrus neurogenesis. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.