Sepsis associated encephalopathy (SAE) is a major complication of patients surviving sepsis with a prevalence up to 70%. Although the initial pathophysiological events of SAE are considered to arise during the acute phase of sepsis, there is increasing evidence that SAE leads to persistent brain dysfunction with severe cognitive decline in later life. Previous studies suggest that the hippocampal formation is particularly involved leading to atrophy in later stages. Thereby, the underlying cellular mechanisms are only poorly understood. Here, we hypothesized that endogenous neural stems cells and adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus are impaired following sepsis and that these changes may contribute to persistent cognitive dysfunction when the animals have physically fully recovered. We used the murine sepsis model of peritoneal contamination and infection (PCI) and combined different labeling methods of precursor cells with confocal microscopy studies to assess the neurogenic niche in the dentate gyrus at day 42 postsepsis. We found that following sepsis i) gliogenesis is increased, ii) the absolute number of radial glia-like cells (type 1 cells), which are considered the putative stem cells, is significantly reduced, iii) the generation of new neurons is not significantly altered, while iv) the synaptic spine maturation of new neurons is impaired with a shift to expression of more immature and less mature spines. In conclusion, sepsis mainly leads to depletion of the neural stem cell pool and enhanced gliogenesis in the dentate gyrus which points towards an accelerated aging of the hippocampus due to septic insult.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.