Regional and developmental profile of hippocampal neuroplasticity in adolescence: lessons from animal studies

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Cusack, Kevin
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University College Cork
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Adolescence, the period between childhood and adulthood is a sensitive period of development, open to social and environmental influences. Neuroplasticity, which includes the processes of neurogenesis, synaptogenesis, myelination, and synaptic pruning, is the ability of the brain to change continuously throughout the lifespan. During adolescence, an increased bout of synaptogenesis and myelination occurs, followed by synaptic pruning. The hippocampus, which plays a key role in learning and memory, as well as emotional regulation, is particularly sensitive to influences that change neuroplasticity. However, little is known about the differential expression of specific neuroplasticity proteins in the hippocampus at early, mid and late adolescence, and between males and females. Three timepoints which mimic human adolescence development in rats (PND 28, PND 42 and PND 56) were selected. Male and female Sprague-Dawley rats were used; 8 males and 8 females at each of the three timepoints. Mass spectrometry was used to analyse the hippocampal samples to determine the differential expression of proteins between the three timepoints and between males and females at each adolescent period. Neuroplasticity-related proteins implicated in neurogenesis, axon development and myelination were most prominent early in adolescence with a consistent trajectory of developmental change through adolescence. Differential expression of neuroplasticity-related proteins was observed between the sexes at each time point, indicating differences in the timing of hippocampal development processes between males and females at the same age. This study found evidence for a difference in the timing of hippocampal development between the sexes with females possibly at a more advanced stage of hippocampal development compared to males of the same age.
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Neuroplasticity , Adolescence
Cusack, K. 2020. Regional and developmental profile of hippocampal neuroplasticity in adolescence: lessons from animal studies. MRes Thesis, University College Cork.