Nuclear-bomb-test-derived 14C in human hippocampal neurons reveals adult neurogenesis
One-third of hippocampal neurons are subject to exchange
The annual turnover rate is 1.75% within the renewing fraction in adult humans
The extent of adult neurogenesis is comparable in middle-aged humans and mice
Adult-born hippocampal neurons are important for cognitive plasticity in rodents. There is evidence for hippocampal neurogenesis in adult humans, although whether its extent is sufficient to have functional significance has been questioned. We have assessed the generation of hippocampal cells in humans by measuring the concentration of nuclear-bomb-test-derived 14C in genomic DNA, and we present an integrated model of the cell turnover dynamics. We found that a large subpopulation of hippocampal neurons constituting one-third of the neurons is subject to exchange. In adult humans, 700 new neurons are added in each hippocampus per day, corresponding to an annual turnover of 1.75% of the neurons within the renewing fraction, with a modest decline during aging. We conclude that neurons are generated throughout adulthood and that the rates are comparable in middle-aged humans and mice, suggesting that adult hippocampal neurogenesis may contribute to human brain function.