New neurons in old brains: A cautionary tale for the analysis of neurogenesis in post-mortem tissue [article]

Dylan J Terstege, Kwaku Addo-Osafo, Gordon Campbell Teskey, Jonathan R Epp
2021 bioRxiv   pre-print
Adult neurogenesis has primarily been examined in two key regions in the mammalian brain, the subgranular zone of the hippocampus and the subventricular zone. The proliferation and integration of newly generated neurons has been observed widely in adult mammalian species including the human hippocampus. Recent high-profile studies have suggested however, that this process is considerably reduced in humans, occurring in children but declining rapidly and nearly completely in the adult brain. In
more » ... omparison, rodent studies also show age-related decline but a greater degree of proliferation of new neurons in adult animals. Here, we examine whether differences in tissue fixation, rather than biological difference in human versus rodent studies might account for the diminished levels of neurogenesis sometimes observed in the human brain. To do so we analyzed neurogenesis in the hippocampus of rats that were either perfusion-fixed or the brains extracted and immersion-fixed at various post-mortem intervals. We observed an interaction between animal age and the time delay between death and tissue fixation. While similar levels of neurogenesis were observed in young rats regardless of fixation, older rats had significantly fewer labeled neurons when fixation was not immediate. Furthermore, the morphological detail of the labeled neurons was significantly reduced in the delayed fixation conditions at all ages. This study highlights critical concerns that must be considered when using post-mortem tissue to quantify adult neurogenesis.
doi:10.1101/2021.11.12.468443 fatcat:ex5pvmullvdxfchrkrctkbwo4i