Adult brain neurogenesis and psychiatry: A novel theory of depression

B. L. Jacobs, H. Van Praag, F. H. Gage

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

828 Scopus citations


Neurogenesis (the birth of new neurons) continues postnatally and into adulthood in the brains of many animal species, including humans. This is particularly prominent in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampal formation. One of the factors that potently suppresses adult neurogenesis is stress, probably due to increased glucocorticoid release. Complementing this, we have recently found that increasing brain levels of serotonin enhance the basal rate of dentate gyrus neurogenesis. These and other data have led us to propose the following theory regarding clinical depression. Stress-induced decreases in dentate gyrus neurogenesis are an important causal factor in precipitating episodes of depression. Reciprocally, therapeutic interventions for depression that increase serotonergic neurotransmission act at least in part by augmenting dentate gyrus neurogenesis and thereby promoting recovery from depression. Thus, we hypothesize that the waning and waxing of neurogenesis in the hippocampal formation are important causal factors, respectively, in the precipitation of, and recovery from, episodes of clinical depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-269
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology


  • 5-HT(1A)
  • Dentate gyrus
  • Epilepsy
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Hippocampus
  • Mouse
  • Rat
  • Serotonin
  • Stress


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