Traumatic brain injury (TBI) promotes neural stem/progenitor cell (NSC) proliferation in an attempt to initiate innate repair mechanisms. However, all immature neurons in the CNS are required to migrate from their birthplace to their final destination to develop into functional neurons. Here we assessed the destination of adult-born neurons following TBI. We found that a large percentage of immature neurons migrated past their normal stopping site at the inner granular cell layer (GCL), and became misplaced in the outer GCL of the hippocampal dentate gyrus. The aberrant migration of adult-born neurons in the hippocampus occurred 48 hours after TBI, and lasted for 8 weeks, resulting in a great number of newly generated neurons misplaced in the outer GCL in the hippocampus. Those misplaced neurons were able to become mature and differentiate into granular neurons, but located ectopically in the outer GCL with reduced dendritic complexity after TBI. The adult-born neurons at the misplaced position may make wrong connections with inappropriate nearby targets in the pre-existing neural network. These results suggest that although stimulation of endogenous NSCs following TBI might offer new avenues for cell-based therapy, additional intervention is required to further enhance successful neurogenesis for repairing the damaged brain.
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