Researchers who have uncovered the presence of stem cells in an adult's central nervous system have not only challenged the dogma that new neurons cannot be generated during adulthood, but also shed light on the etiology and disease mechanisms underlying many neurological and psychiatric disorders. Brain trauma, neurodegenerative diseases, and psychiatric disorders pose enormous burdens at both personal and societal levels. Although medications for these disorders are widely used, the treatment mechanisms underlying the illnesses remain largely elusive. In the past decade, an increasing amount of evidence indicate that adult neurogenesis (i.e. generating new CNS neurons during adulthood) may be involved in the pathology of different CNS disorders, and thus neurogenesis may be a potential target area for treatments. Although new neurons were shown to be a major player in mediating treatment efficacy of neurological and psychotropic drugs on cognitive functions, it is still debatable if the altered production of new neurons can cause the disorders. This review hence seeks to discuss pre and current clinical studies that demonstrate the functional impact adult neurogenesis have on neurological and psychiatric illnesses while examining the related underlying disease mechanisms.
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Psychiatric disorders