May 152012

The primary aim of this study is to develop a thorough understanding of neurogenesis in the canine hippocampus.

Over the last decade we have come to understand that new neurons are created in the adult brain throughout the lifetime. We are still in the very early stages of understanding this fascinating process which has been named neurogenesis. The number of newly created neurons declines with age but the process continues into old age in varying degrees across mammalian species.

Very little is known about neurogenesis in the canine brain. This project aims to characterising neurogenesis along the axis of the canine hippocampus. The hippocampus contains structures that are crucial for declarative memory function. One structure called the dentate gyrus is currently understood to be one of two “neurogenic niche’s” where neurons are created in the adult mammalian brain. We utilise a number of biological markers such as doublecortin (DCX) and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) to visualise and quantify newly created neurons in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus.

The functional significance of newly created neurons is still unknown and research on neurogenesis is still at an exploratory stage. As such, this project will provide foundational knowledge which will be important for assessing the outcomes of future studies investigating canine brain reorganisation following stem cell transplantation.