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Running increases cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the adult mouse dentate gyrus


Exposure to an enriched environment increases neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of adult rodents. Environmental enrichment, however, typically consists of many components, such as expanded learning opportunities, increased social interaction, more physical activity and larger housing. We attempted to separate components by assigning adult mice to various conditions: water-maze learning (learner), swim-time-yoked control (swimmer), voluntary wheel running (runner), and enriched (enriched) and standard housing (control) groups. Neither maze training nor yoked swimming had any effect on bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU)-positive cell number. However, running doubled the number of surviving newborn cells, in amounts similar to enrichment conditions. Our findings demonstrate that voluntary exercise is sufficient for enhanced neurogenesis in the adult mouse dentate gyrus.

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Figure 1: BrdU-positive cell number.
Figure 2: Proliferation and neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus.
Figure 3: Water-maze training in the learners group.
Figure 4: Living conditions in the different experimental groups.


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We thank Eugene Brandon, Mary Lynn Gage, Uwe Konietzko, Marie-Claude Senut and Xinyu Zhao for comments on the manuscript, and Linda Kitabayashi for assisitance with photography and confocal imaging. We also thank Alice Smith, Tony Slimp and coworkers in the Salk Institute Animal Research Facility for their support of this study. This work was funded by NIA, NINDS, Pasarow Foundation, Hollfelder Foundation and APA.

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Correspondence to Fred H. Gage.

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van Praag, H., Kempermann, G. & Gage, F. Running increases cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the adult mouse dentate gyrus. Nat Neurosci 2, 266–270 (1999).

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