Chronic hypoxia (CH) is a major risk factor for impaired cognitive function in various disease states, particularly in the context of cyanotic congenital heart disease. Although most brain development occurs prenatally, the dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampus harbors progenitor stem cells that contribute to its ongoing development postnatally. It is unclear how exposure to CH might affect postnatal hippocampal development, so we used a transgenic mouse that expresses enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) within this progenitor population to determine the effect of CH on the DG. We find that exposure to 10% oxygen from postnatal d 3 to 28 results in a smaller DG with long-term impairment of hippocampal neurogenesis. Because the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is a well-known regulator of cell proliferation and growth and is sensitive to hypoxia, we investigated its activation on exposure to CH and find it to be attenuated specifically in neural progenitor cells. Systemic inhibition of the mTOR pathway using rapamycin also caused impairment of hippocampal neurogenesis that mimics exposure to CH. Our findings demonstrate that CH results in long-term impairment of hippocampal neurogenesis and is mediated, in part, by attenuation of the mTOR pathway.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health