Relevance of number and physiological status of conspecifics in preventing stress-induced decreases in newly proliferated cells and neuroblasts

  • Li-Han Sun
  • Wen-Yu Tzeng
  • Yi-Han Liao
  • Wen-Ting Deng
  • Chianfang G. CherngEmail author
  • Lung YuEmail author
Original Investigation


Rationale and objective

The presence of three conspecifics prevents stress-induced decreases in newly proliferated cells and neuroblasts in mouse dentate gyrus (DG). In this study, we sought to determine how many conspecifics are required to exert these protective effects against stress. In addition, we manipulated the physiological status of those conspecifics in the context of their stress-buffering effects and used airborne oxytocin exposure as a substitute for the presence of conspecifics.

Materials and methods

Bromodeoxyuridine staining was used to indicate the newly proliferated cells and co-staining with doublecortin to reveal the proliferative neuroblasts.


Presentation of three intact and lipopolysaccharide-treated conspecifics prevented the stress-induced decreases in the number of newly proliferated cells and neuroblasts in DG. Presentation of one saline- or oxytocin (OT)–treated conspecific did not exert observable stress-buffering effects. In contrast, airborne oxytocin prevented the stress-induced decreases in DG cell proliferation and early neurogenesis, while pretreatment with L-371,257, a selective OT receptor antagonist, abolished the buffering effects of OT.


Physical interaction with the conspecifics and conspecifics’ sickness, at best, play a minor role in mediating the buffering effects against stress-induced decreases in DG cell proliferation or early neurogenesis. Moreover, stress-buffering effects are negligible with the presence of only one conspecific. Finally, airborne OT produced stress-buffering effects possibly via its stimulation of OT receptors. Oxytocin merits further study as a substitute for the stress-buffering effects of companions.


Dentate gyrus Companion Conspecific Stress Early neurogenesis Oxytocin 



We would like to extend our deepest appreciation for Prof. G.C. Wagner’s reading and proofing of the manuscript.

Author contributions

L-H.S., W-Y.T., Y-H.L., C.G.C., and L.Y. were involved in manuscript writing and editing and collecting most of the data. L-H.S., W-Y.T., Y-H.L., C.G.C., and L.Y. came up with the experiment proposal and contributed to the experimental designs. C.G.C. contributed to most data analysis. W-T.D. was responsible for a part of data collection, data analysis, and interpretation.

Funding sources

This research was supported by ROC Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) grants 103-2410-H-006-028-MY3 to L.Y., and 107-2629-H-010-002 to C.G.C.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyNational Cheng Kung University College of MedicineTainanTaiwan, Republic of China
  2. 2.Education Center of Humanities and Social SciencesNational Yang-Ming UniversityTaipeiTaiwan, Republic of China
  3. 3.Institute of Behavioral MedicineNational Cheng Kung University College of MedicineTainanTaiwan, Republic of China

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