The angiogenic factor vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF) has been shown to have a role in neurogenesis, but how it affects adult neurogenesis is not fully understood. To delineate a role for VEGF in successive stages of olfactory bulb (OB) neurogenesis, we used a conditional transgenic system to suppress VEGF signaling at the adult mouse sub-ventricular zone (SVZ), rostral migratory stream (RMS) and OB, which constitute the respective sites of birth, the migration route, and sites where newly born interneurons mature and integrate within the existing OB circuitry. Following the development of fluorescently tagged adultborn neurons, we show that sequestration of VEGF that is constitutively expressed by distinct types of resident OB neurons greatly impaired dendrite development in incoming SVZ-born neurons. This was evidenced by reduced dendritic spine density of granule cells and significantly shorter and less branched dendrites in periglomerular neurons. Notably, the vasculature and perfusion of the SVZ, RMS and OB were not adversely affected when VEGF suppression was delayed until after birth, thus uncoupling the effect of VEGF on dendritogenesis from its known role in vascular maintenance. Furthermore, a requirement for VEGF was specific to newly born neurons, as already established OB neurons were not damaged by VEGF inhibition. This study thus uncovered a surprising perfusion-independent role of VEGF in the adult brain, namely, an essential role in the maturation of adult-born neurons.
- Adult neurogenesis
- VEGF (VEGFA)