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Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Cell. Neurosci., 19 October 2011 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2011.00022

CX3CR1 deficiency alters hippocampal-dependent plasticity phenomena blunting the effects of enriched environment

  • 1 Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Istituto Pasteur Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti, Università di Roma, Rome Italy
  • 2 Department of Cellular Biology and Neurosciences, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy
  • 3 Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico Neuromed, Pozzilli, Italy

In recent years several evidence demonstrated that some features of hippocampal biology, like neurogenesis, synaptic transmission, learning, and memory performances are deeply modulated by social, motor, and sensorial experiences. Fractalkine/CX3CL1 is a transmembrane chemokine abundantly expressed in the brain by neurons, where it modulates glutamatergic transmission and long-term plasticity processes regulating the intercellular communication between glia and neurons, being its specific receptor CX3CR1 expressed by microglia. In this paper we investigated the role of CX3CL1/CX3CR1 signaling on experience-dependent hippocampal plasticity processes. At this aim wt and CX3CR1GFP/GFP mice were exposed to long-lasting-enriched environment (EE) and the effects on hippocampal functions were studied by electrophysiological recordings of long-term potentiation of synaptic activity, behavioral tests of learning and memory in the Morris water maze paradigm and analysis of neurogenesis in the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus (DG). We found that CX3CR1 deficiency increases hippocampal plasticity and spatial memory, blunting the potentiating effects of EE. In contrast, exposure to EE increased the number and migration of neural progenitors in the DG of both wt and CX3CR1GFP/GFP mice. These data indicate that CX3CL1/CX3CR1-mediated signaling is crucial for a normal experience-dependent modulation of hippocampal functions.

Keywords: CX3CL1, long-term potentiation, learning and memory, neurogenesis, experience

Citation: Maggi L, Scianni M, Branchi I, D’Andrea I, Lauro C and Limatola C (2011) CX3CR1 deficiency alters hippocampal-dependent plasticity phenomena blunting the effects of enriched environment. Front. Cell. Neurosci. 5:22. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2011.00022

Received: 22 July 2011; Accepted: 29 September 2011;
Published online: 19 October 2011.

Edited by:

Enrico Cherubini, International School for Advanced Studies, Italy

Reviewed by:

Nicoletta Berardi, University of Florence, Italy
Hélène Marie, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France

Copyright: © 2011 Maggi, Scianni, Branchi, D’Andrea, Lauro and Limatola. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

*Correspondence: Laura Maggi, Dipartimento di Fisiologia e Farmacologia, Università di Roma Sapienza, Piazzale Aldo Moro, 5, Rome 00185, Italy. e-mail: laura.maggi@uniroma1.it