Programmed cell death during postnatal development of the rodent nervous system


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During development, elimination of excess cells through programmed cell death (PCD) is essential for the establishment and maintenance of the nervous system. In many brain regions, development and major histogenesis continue beyond postnatal stages, and therefore, signs of neurogenesis and PCD are frequently observed in these postnatal brain regions. Furthermore, some brain regions maintain neurogenic potential throughout life, and continuous genesis and PCD play critical roles in sculpting these adult neural circuits. Although similar regulatory mechanisms that control PCD during development appear to also control PCD in the adult brain, adult-generated neurons must integrate into mature neural circuits for their survival. This novel requirement appears to result in unique features of PCD in the adult brain. In this article, we summarize recent findings related to PCD in the early postnatal and adult brain in rodents.