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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2019, Article ID 1815371, 16 pages
Research Article

Novelty and Novel Objects Increase c-Fos Immunoreactivity in Mossy Cells in the Mouse Dentate Gyrus

1The Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Center for Dementia Research, 140 Old Orangeburg Rd., Orangeburg, NY 10962, USA
2Departments of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Neuroscience and Physiology, and Psychiatry, and the Neuroscience Institute, New York University Langone Health, 100 First Ave., New York, NY 10016, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Helen E. Scharfman; gro.hmfr.ikn@namfrahcsh

Received 9 April 2019; Accepted 5 July 2019; Published 27 August 2019

Academic Editor: Diano Marrone

Copyright © 2019 Hannah L. Bernstein et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The dentate gyrus (DG) and its primary cell type, the granule cell (GC), are thought to be critical to many cognitive functions. A major neuronal subtype of the DG is the hilar mossy cell (MC). MCs have been considered to play an important role in cognition, but in vivo studies to understand the activity of MCs during cognitive tasks are challenging because the experiments usually involve trauma to the overlying hippocampus or DG, which kills hilar neurons. In addition, restraint typically occurs, and MC activity is reduced by brief restraint stress. Social isolation often occurs and is potentially confounding. Therefore, we used c-fos protein expression to understand when MCs are active in vivo in socially housed adult C57BL/6 mice in their home cage. We focused on c-fos protein expression after animals explored novel objects, based on previous work which showed that MCs express c-fos protein readily in response to a novel housing location. Also, MCs are required for the training component of the novel object location task and novelty-encoding during a food-related task. GluR2/3 was used as a marker of MCs. The results showed that MC c-fos protein is greatly increased after exposure to novel objects, especially in ventral DG. We also found that novel objects produced higher c-fos levels than familiar objects. Interestingly, a small subset of neurons that did not express GluR2/3 also increased c-fos protein after novel object exposure. In contrast, GCs appeared relatively insensitive. The results support a growing appreciation of the role of the DG in novelty detection and novel object recognition, where hilar neurons and especially MCs are very sensitive.