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CD4-positive T lymphocytes provide a neuroimmunological link in the control of adult hippocampal neurogenesis

: Wolf, S.A.; Steiner, B.; Akpinarli, A.; Kammertoens, T.; Nassenstein, C.; Braun, A.; Blankenstein, T.; Kempermann, G.


The Journal of immunology 182 (2009), No.7, pp.3979-3984
ISSN: 0022-1767
ISSN: 1048-3233
ISSN: 1047-7381
ISSN: 1550-6606
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ITEM ()
B-Lymphocytes; CD4-positive T-Lymphocytes; DNA-binding protein; fluorescent antibody technique; hippocampus; maze learning; neurogenesis; T-Lymphocyte subsets; cell proliferation; enzyme linked immunosorbent assay; flow cytometry; immunohistochemistry; mice

Adult hippocampal neurogenesis occurs in an exceptional permissive microenvironment. Neuroimmunological mechanisms might be prominently involved in the endogenous homeostatic principles that control baseline levels of adult neurogenesis. We show in this study that this homeostasis is partially dependent on CD4-positive T lymphocytes. Systemic depletion of CD4-positive T lymphocytes led to significantly reduced hippocampal neurogenesis, impaired reversal learning in the Morris water maze, and decreased brain-derived neurotrophic factor expression in the brain. No such effect of CD8 or B cells was observed. Repopulation of RAG2(-/-) mice with CD4, but not with CD8 cells again increased precursor cell proliferation. The T cells in our experiments were non-CNS specific and rarely detectable in the healthy brain. Thus, we can exclude cell-cell contacts between immune and brain cells or lymphocyte infiltration into the CNS as a prerequisite for an effect of CD4-T cells on neurogenesis. We propose that systemic CD4-T cell activity is required for maintaining cellular plasticity in the adult hippocampus and represents an evolutionary relevant communication route for the brain to respond to environmental changes.