Subtle Changes in Clonal Dynamics Underlie the Age-Related Decline in Neurogenesis

Bast L, Calzolari F, Strasser M, Hasenauer J, Theis F, Ninkovic J, Marr C.
Preprint from
21 October 2017


Neural stem cells in the adult murine brain have only a limited capacity to self-renew, and the number of neurons they generate drastically declines with age. How cellular dynamics sustain neurogenesis and how alterations with age may result in this decline, are both unresolved issues. Therefore, we clonally traced neural stem cell lineages using confetti reporters in young and middle-aged adult mice. To understand underlying mechanisms, we derived mathematical population models of adult neurogenesis that explain the observed clonal cell type abundances. Models fitting the data best consistently show self renewal of transit amplifying progenitors and rapid neuroblast cell cycle exit. Most importantly, we identified an increase of asymmetric stem cell divisions at the expense of symmetric stem cell differentiation with age. Beyond explaining existing longitudinal population data, our model identifies a particular cellular strategy underlying adult neural stem cell homeostasis that gives insights into the aging of a stem cell compartment.