• schizophrenia;
  • neuronal survival;
  • testosterone;
  • development;
  • sex steroids


New neurons are continuously produced in the subgranular zone of the adult hippocampus and can modulate hippocampal plasticity across life. Adolescence is characterized by dramatic changes in sex hormone levels, and social and emotional behaviors. It is also an age for increased risk of psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, which may involve altered hippocampal neurogenesis. The extent to which testosterone and other testicular hormones modulate hippocampal neurogenesis and adolescent behavioral development is unclear. This study aimed to determine if removal of testicular hormones during adolescence alters neurogenesis in the male rhesus macaque hippocampus. We used stereology to examine levels of cell proliferation, cell survival and neuronal differentiation in late adolescent male rhesus macaques (4.6-yrs old) that had previously been gonadectomized or sham operated prior to puberty (2.4-yrs old). While the absence of adolescent testicular hormones had no effect on cell proliferation, cell survival was increased by 65% and indices of immature neuronal differentiation were increased by 56% in gonadectomized monkeys compared to intact monkeys. We show for the first time that presence of circulating testicular hormones, including testosterone, may decrease neuronal survival in the primate hippocampus during adolescence. Our findings are in contrast to existing studies in adults where testosterone tends to be a pro-survival factor and demonstrate that testicular hormones may reduce hippocampal neurogenesis during the age typical of schizophrenia onset. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.