In the search for ways to combat degenerative neurological disorders, neurogenesis-stimulating factors are proving to be a promising area of research. In this study, we show that the hormonal factor prolactin (PRL) can activate a pool of latent precursor cells in the adult mouse hippocampus. Using an in vitro neurosphere assay, we found that the addition of exogenous PRL to primary adult hippocampal cells resulted in an approximate 50% increase in neurosphere number. In addition, direct infusion of PRL into the adult dentate gyrus also resulted in a significant increase in neurosphere number. Together these data indicate that exogenous PRL can increase hippocampal precursor numbers both in vitro and in vivo. Conversely, PRL null mice showed a significant reduction (approximately 80%) in the number of hippocampal-derived neurospheres. Interestingly, no deficit in precursor proliferation was observed in vivo, indicating that in this situation other niche factors can compensate for a loss in PRL. The PRL loss resulted in learning and memory deficits in the PRL null mice, as indicated by significant deficits in the standard behavioral tests requiring input from the hippocampus. This behavioral deficit was rescued by direct infusion of recombinant PRL into the hippocampus, indicating that a lack of PRL in the adult mouse hippocampus can be correlated with impaired learning and memory.
Walker, TL., Vukovic, J., Koudijs, MM., Blackmore, DG., Mackay, EW., Sykes, AM., Overall, RW., Hamlin, A., & Bartlett, PF. (2012). Prolactin stimulates precursor cells in the adult mouse hippocampus. PLoS One, 7(9), 1-11. [e44371]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0044371