Reactive, Adult Neurogenesis From Increased Neural Progenitor Cell Proliferation Following Alcohol Dependence in Female Rats

Natalie N. Nawarawong, K. Ryan Thompson, Steven P. Guerin, Chinchusha Anasooya Shaji, Hui Peng, Kimberly Nixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Hippocampal neurodegeneration is a consequence of excessive alcohol drinking in alcohol use disorders (AUDs), however, recent studies suggest that females may be more susceptible to alcohol-induced brain damage. Adult hippocampal neurogenesis is now well accepted to contribute to hippocampal integrity and is known to be affected by alcohol in humans as well as in animal models of AUDs. In male rats, a reactive increase in adult hippocampal neurogenesis has been observed during abstinence from alcohol dependence, a phenomenon that may underlie recovery of hippocampal structure and function. It is unknown whether reactive neurogenesis occurs in females. Therefore, adult female rats were exposed to a 4-day binge model of alcohol dependence followed by 7 or 14 days of abstinence. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was used to assess neural progenitor cell (NPC) proliferation (BrdU and Ki67), the percentage of increased NPC activation (Sox2+/Ki67+), the number of immature neurons (NeuroD1), and ectopic dentate gyrus granule cells (Prox1). On day seven of abstinence, ethanol-treated females showed a significant increase in BrdU+ and Ki67+ cells in the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus (SGZ), as well as greater activation of NPCs (Sox2+/Ki67+) into active cycling. At day 14 of abstinence, there was a significant increase in the number of immature neurons (NeuroD1+) though no evidence of ectopic neurogenesis according to either NeuroD1 or Prox1 immunoreactivity. Altogether, these data suggest that alcohol dependence produces similar reactive increases in NPC proliferation and adult neurogenesis. Thus, reactive, adult neurogenesis may be a means of recovery for the hippocampus after alcohol dependence in females.

Original languageEnglish
Article number689601
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - Sep 14 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Nawarawong, Thompson, Guerin, Anasooya Shaji, Peng and Nixon.


  • abstinence
  • adult neurogenesis
  • alcohol
  • alcoholism
  • ethanol
  • hippocampus
  • neural stem cells
  • recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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