Newly born granule cells in the dentate gyrus rapidly extend axons into the hippocampal CA3 region following experimental brain injury

Dana L. Emery, Carl T. Fulp, Kathryn E. Saatman, Christian Schütz, Edmund Neugebauer, Tracy K. McIntosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


We investigated whether new neurons generated in the adult rat brain following lateral fluid percussion traumatic brain injury (TBI) are capable of projecting axons along the mossy fiber pathway to the CA3 region of the hippocampus. Dividing cells were labeled by intraperitoneal injection of bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) on the day of surgery/injury, and neurons that extended axons to the CA3 region were retrogradely labeled by fluorescent tracers (FluoSpheres®), stereotactically injected into the CA3 region of both the ipsi- and contralateral hippocampus at 1 or 12 days following TBI (n = 12) or sham injury (n = 12) in anaesthetized rats. Animals (n = 6 injured and n = 6 sham-injured controls per time point) were sacrificed at either 3 or 14 days post-injury. Another group of animals (n = 3) was subjected to experimental TBI and BrdU administration and sacrificed 3 days after TBI to be processed for BrdU and immunohistochemistry for polysialylated neural cell adhesion molecule (PSA-NCAM), a growth-related protein normally observed during CNS development. A fivefold bilateral increase in the number of mitotically active (BrdU+) cells was noted within the dentate gyrus when compared to uninjured controls as early as 3 days following TBI. A subgroup of dividing cells was also immunoreactive for PSA-NCAM at 3 days following TBI. By 2 weeks post-injury the number of BrdU+ cells within the dentate gyrus was increased twofold compared to the uninjured counterparts and a proportion of these newly generated cells showed cytoplasmic staining for the fluorescent tracer. These findings document rapid neurogenesis following TBI and show, for the first time, that newly generated granule neurons are capable of extending projections along the hippocampal mossy fiber pathway in the acute post-traumatic period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)978-988
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • BrdU
  • Hippocampus
  • Mossy fiber pathway
  • Neurogenesis
  • Neuronal plasticity
  • Progenitor cells
  • Tract tracing
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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