Sustained Activation of the Anterior Thalamic Neurons with Low Doses of Kainic Acid Boosts Hippocampal Neurogenesis

Farah Chamaa, Batoul Darwish, Rami Arnaout, Ziad Nahas, Elie D. Al-Chaer, Nayef E. Saadé, Wassim Abou-Kheir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adult hippocampal neurogenesis is prone to modulation by several intrinsic and extrinsic factors. The anterior nucleus (AN) of the thalamus has extensive connections with the hippocampus, and stimulation of this region may play a role in altering neurogenesis. We have previously shown that electrical stimulation of the AN can substantially boost hippocampal neurogenesis in adult rats. Here, we performed selective unilateral chemical excitation of the cell bodies of the AN as it offers a more specific and sustained stimulation when compared to electrical stimulation. Our aim is to investigate the long-term effects of KA stimulation of the AN on baseline hippocampal proliferation of neural stem cells and neurogenesis. Continuous micro-perfusion of very low doses of kainic acid (KA) was administered into the right AN for seven days. Afterwards, adult male rats received 5′-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU) injections (200 mg/kg, i.p) and were euthanized at either one week or four weeks post micro-perfusion. Open field and Y-maze tests were performed before euthanasia. The KA stimulation of the AN evoked sustained hippocampal neurogenesis that was associated with improved spatial memory in the Y-maze test. Administering dexamethasone prior to and simultaneously with the KA stimulation decreased both the hippocampal neurogenesis and the improved spatial recognition memory previously seen in the Y-maze test. These results suggest that hippocampal neurogenesis may be a downstream effect of stimulation in general, and of excitation of the cell bodies of the AN in particular, and that stimulation of that area improves spatial memory in rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3413
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS) (04-09-13) and the Medical Practice Plan (MPP) (WAK-2018).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • anterior nucleus
  • dexamethasone
  • hippocampus
  • kainic acid stimulation
  • neurogenesis
  • stem/progenitor cells


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