Our lab studies how adult neurogenesis is impacted by Alzheimer’s disease pathology and whether it can be recruited to ‘rejuvenate’ the degenerating brain and counteract memory loss.
Contrary to the long-standing dogma according to which no new neurons can be generated in the adult mammalian brain, we now know that neurogenesis continues in the adult human hippocampus up until the tenth decade of life. Our lab studies how this process is impacted by Alzheimer’s disease pathology and whether it can be recruited to ‘rejuvenate’ the degenerating brain and counteract memory loss.
In the beginning of the 20th century, Ramon y Cajal was founding one of the most influential dogmas of neurobiology by stating that “Once the development was ended ….. everything may die and nothing may be regenerated”. After a very exciting and scientifically useful rollercoaster with dogmas getting overturned again and again over the past 20 years, recent reports have unequivocally demonstrated that adult-born neurons are generated in human hippocampus throughout adulthood. This process of adult hippocampal neurogenesis is compromised in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients and, intriguingly, the levels of neurogenesis in the Alzheimer’s hippocampus correlate with the ante-mortem cognitive reserve of the affected individuals.
In the lab of Neurogenesis and Neurodegeneration, we employ transcriptomics and other molecular and imaging approaches to map the cellular and molecular complexity of the adult hippocampal neurogenic niche and dissect the biological pathways and the protein-coding and non-coding determinants that are deregulated in Alzheimer’s disease.
Cajal would conclude his 1913 doctrine by saying that “It is for the science of the future to change, if possible, this harsh decree”. The ultimate goal of our research is to understand how adult hippocampal neurogenesis can contribute to the brain’s resilience to Alzheimer’s disease and whether harnessing neurogenesis can increase the ‘fitness’ of the hippocampal niche and improve memory in Alzheimer’s.
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