Adult neurogenesis and neurodegenerative diseases: A systems biology perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

55 Scopus citations


New neurons are generated throughout adulthood in two regions of the brain, the olfactory bulb and dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, and are incorporated into the hippocampal network circuitry; disruption of this process has been postulated to contribute to neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Known modulators of adult neurogenesis include signal transduction pathways, the vascular and immune systems, metabolic factors, and epigenetic regulation. Multiple intrinsic and extrinsic factors such as neurotrophic factors, transcription factors, and cell cycle regulators control neural stem cell proliferation, maintenance in the adult neurogenic niche, and differentiation into mature neurons; these factors act in networks of signaling molecules that influence each other during construction and maintenance of neural circuits, and in turn contribute to learning and memory. The immune system and vascular system are necessary for neuronal formation and neural stem cell fate determination. Inflammatory cytokines regulate adult neurogenesis in response to immune system activation, whereas the vasculature regulates the neural stem cell niche. Vasculature, immune/support cell populations (microglia/astrocytes), adhesion molecules, growth factors, and the extracellular matrix also provide a homing environment for neural stem cells. Epigenetic changes during hippocampal neurogenesis also impact memory and learning. Some genetic variations in neurogenesis related genes may play important roles in the alteration of neural stem cells differentiation into new born neurons during adult neurogenesis, with important therapeutic implications. In this review, we discuss mechanisms of and interactions between these modulators of adult neurogenesis, as well as implications for neurodegenerative disease and current therapeutic research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-112
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics, Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • hippocampus
  • memory
  • modulators
  • neural stem cells
  • therapeutic research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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