Editors' ChoiceNeurobiology

Inflammation Prevents Generation of New Neurons

Science's STKE  09 Dec 2003:
Vol. 2003, Issue 212, pp. tw479-TW479
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2122003TW479

The birth of new neurons in the brain seems to be required for normal cognitive function, but in a manner that is not well understood. After cranial radiation therapy, cognitive function may be impaired, probably due to the inhibition of neurogenesis. Monje et al. (see the Perspective by Kempermann and Neumann) now show that neurogenesis in the hippocampal region of the brain can be inhibited by inflammation in the area surrounding the stem or progenitor cells. The inhibition occurred whether the inflammation resulted from local radiation-induced tissue damage or from the introduction of lipopolysaccharide. Inhibition of inflammation with the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agent indomethacin could partially restore neurogenesis, possibly because of the local release of interleukin-6 from activated microglial cells.

M. L. Monje, H. Toda, T. D. Palmer, Inflammatory blockade restores adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Science 302, 1760-1765 (2003). [Abstract] [Full Text]

G. Kempermann, H. Neumann, Microglia: The enemy within? Science 302, 1689-1690 (2003). [Summary] [Full Text]