Microbats appear to have adult hippocampal neurogenesis, but post-capture stress causes a rapid decline in the number of neurons expressing doublecortin

Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


A previous study investigating potential adult hippocampal neurogenesis in microchiropteran bats failed to reveal a strong presence of this neural trait. As microchiropterans have a high field metabolic rate and a small body mass, it is possible that capture/handling stress may lead to a decrease in the detectable presence of adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Here we looked for evidence of adult hippocampal neurogenesis using immunohistochemical techniques for the endogenous marker doublecortin (DCX) in 10 species of microchiropterans euthanized and perfusion fixed at specific time points following capture. Our results reveal that when euthanized and perfused within 15 min of capture, abundant putative adult hippocampal neurogenesis could be detected using DCX immunohistochemistry. Between 15 and 30 min post-capture, the detectable levels of DCX dropped dramatically and after 30 min post-capture, immunohistochemistry for DCX could not reveal any significant evidence of putative adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Thus, as with all other mammals studied to date apart from cetaceans, bats, including both microchiropterans and megachiropterans, appear to exhibit substantial levels of adult hippocampal neurogenesis. The present study underscores the concept that, as with laboratory experiments, studies conducted on wild-caught animals need to be cognizant of the fact that acute stress (capture/handling) may induce major changes in the appearance of specific neural traits.