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Adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) is a process involved in numerous neurodegenerative diseases. Many researchers have described microglia as a key component in regulating the formation and migration of new neurons along the rostral migratory stream. Caspase-3 is a cysteine-aspartate-protease classically considered as one of the main effector caspases in the cell death program process. In addition to this classical function, we have identified the role of this protein as a modulator of microglial function; however, its action on neurogenic processes is unknown. The aim of the present study is to identify the role of Caspase-3 in neurogenesis-related microglial functions. To address this study, Caspase-3 conditional knockout mice in the microglia cell line were used. Using this tool, we wanted to elucidate the role of this protein in microglial function in the hippocampus, the main region in which adult neurogenesis takes place. After the reduction of Caspase-3 in microglia, mutant mice showed a reduction of microglia in the hippocampus, especially in the dentate gyrus region, a region inherently associated to neurogenesis. In addition, we found a reduction in doublecortin-positive neurons in conditional Caspase-3 knockout mice, which corresponds to a reduction in neurogenic neurons. Furthermore, using high-resolution image analysis, we also observed a reduction in the phagocytic capacity of microglia lacking Caspase-3. Behavioral analysis using object recognition and Y-maze tests showed altered memory and learning in the absence of Caspase-3. Finally, we identified specific microglia located specifically in neurogenic niche positive for Galectin 3 which colocalized with Cleaved-Caspase-3 in control mice. Taken together, these results showed the essential role of Caspase-3 in microglial function and highlight the relevant role of this specific microglial phenotype in the maintenance of AHN in the hippocampus. Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Isabel M Alonso Bellido, Mercedes Posada-Pérez, Francisco Hernández-Rasco, Sandra Vázquez-Reyes, María Cabanillas, Antonio J Herrera, Sara Bachiller, Jesús Soldán-Hidalgo, Ana M Espinosa-Oliva, Bertrand Joseph, Rocío M de Pablos, José L Venero, Rocío Ruiz. Microglial Caspase-3 is essential for modulating hippocampal neurogenesis. Brain, behavior, and immunity. 2023 Aug;112:206-219

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PMID: 37327833

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