Regulation of adult neurogenesis by behavior and age in the accessory olfactory bulb. uri icon


  • The vomeronasal system (VNS) participates in the detection and processing of pheromonal information related to social and sexual behaviors. Within the VNS, two different populations of sensory neurons, with a distinct pattern of distribution, line the epithelium of the vomeronasal organ (VNO) and give rise to segregated sensory projections to the accessory olfactory bulb (AOB). Apical sensory neurons in the VNO project to the anterior AOB (aAOB), while basal neurons project to the posterior AOB (pAOB). In the AOB, the largest population of neurons are inhibitory, the granule and periglomerular cells (GCs and PGs) and remarkably, these neurons are continuously born and functionally integrated in the adult brain, underscoring their role on olfactory function. Here we show that behaviors mediated by the VNS differentially regulate adult neurogenesis across the anterior-posterior axis of the AOB. We used immunohistochemical labeling of newly born cells under different behavioral conditions in mice. Using a resident-intruder aggression paradigm, we found that subordinate mice exhibited increased neurogenesis in the aAOB. In addition, in sexually naive adult females exposed to soiled bedding odorized by adult males, the number of newly born cells was significantly increased in the pAOB; however, neurogenesis was not affected in females exposed to female odors. In addition, we found that at two months of age adult neurogenesis was sexually dimorphic, with male mice exhibiting higher levels of newly born cells than females. Interestingly, adult neurogenesis was greatly reduced with age and this decrease correlated with a decrease in progenitor cells proliferation but not with an increase in cell death in the AOB. These results indicate that the physiological regulation of adult neurogenesis in the AOB by behaviors is both sex and age dependent and suggests an important role of newly born neurons in sex dependent behaviors mediated by the VNS.

publication date

  • August 2011