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Keywords:

  • artificial neuronal network;
  • cell survival;
  • hippocampus;
  • neuronal homeostasis

Abstract

The proliferation and survival of new cells in the dentate gyrus of mammals is a complex process that is subject to numerous influences, presenting a confusing picture. We suggest regarding these processes on the level of small networks, which can be simulated in silico and which illustrate in a nutshell the influences that proliferating cells exert on plasticity and the conditions they require for survival. Beyond the insights gained by this consideration, we review the available literature on factors that regulate cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus in vivo. It turns out that the rate of cell proliferation and excitatory afferents via the perforant path interactively determine cell survival, such that the best network stability is achieved when either of the two is increased whereas concurrent activation of the two factors lowers cell survival rates. Consequently, the mitotic activity is regulated by systemic parameters in compliance with the hippocampal network's requirements. The resulting neurogenesis, in contrast, depends on local factors, i.e. the activity flow within the network. In the process of cell differentiation and survival, each cell's spectrum of afferent and efferent connections decides whether it will integrate into the network or undergo apoptosis, and it is the current neuronal activity which determines the synaptic spectrum. We believe that this framework will help explain the biology of dentate cell proliferation and provide a basis for future research hypotheses.