Insights into the mechanism of adult neurogenesis - an interview with Arturo Álvarez-Buylla
Published: 13 November 2020
Diana Escalante-Alcalde*,1 and Jesús Chimal-Monroy*,2
1División de Neurociencias, Instituto de Fisiología Celular and 2Departamento de Medicina Genómica y Toxicología Ambiental, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad de México, México
Neurogenesis is the process by which new neurons are formed from progenitor cells. The adult nervous system was long considered unable to generate new neurons, especially in mammals. It was not until the 1960s that Joseph Altman and Gopal Das, using H3-thymidine autoradiography to trace newly formed cells, that the first suggestions of new neurons added to the olfactory bulb and the dentate gyrus of the rat hippocampus came about. These observations remained controversial for many years as they went against the dogmatic view that the structure of the adult brain precluded processes of neurogenesis. It was not until two decades later that work in songbirds and then in mammals, not only confirmed that new neurons could be produced in the adult brain, but revealed basic processes of how young neurons are produced, how they could migrate long distances and become incorporated into adult brain circuits. Arturo Álvarez-Buylla has made important contributions to the understanding of the mechanism of adult neurogenesis, including the identification of adult neural stem cells. Here we summarize a discussion with him related to the field of adult neurogenesis, the root of his interest in neural development and the ramifications of some of his laboratory findings.