Neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs) generate new neurons throughout life in the mammalian hippocampus. Newborn granule cells mature over several weeks to functionally integrate into the pre-existing neural circuitry. Even though an increasing number of genes that regulate neuronal polarization and neurite extension have been identified, the cellular mechanisms underlying the extension of neurites arising from newborn granule cells remain largely unknown. This is mainly because of the current lack of longitudinal observations of neurite growth within the endogenous niche. Here we used a novel slice culture system of the adult mouse hippocampal formation combined with in vivo retroviral labeling of newborn neurons and longitudinal confocal imaging to analyze the mode and velocity of neurite growth extending from immature granule cells. Using this approach we show that dendritic processes show a linear growth pattern with a speed of 2.19±0.2 μm per hour, revealing a much faster growth dynamic than expected by snapshot-based in vivo time series. Thus, we here identified the growth pattern of neurites extending from newborn neurons within their niche and describe a novel technology that will be useful to monitor neuritic growth in physiological and disease states that are associated with altered dendritic morphology, such as rodent models of epilepsy.
- Granule cell
- Slice culture