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How does synaptic pruning happen?

  1. Sep 6, 2016 #1
    I was wondering how synaptic pruning occurs? I understand the need for pruning, but how do connections in the brain just disappear? Are there molecules or enzymes that break neurone cells down, causing the loss of a connection, or is there some other mechanism?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 6, 2016 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    From the wiki article:


    They mention that while they know it happens the actual molecular mechanisms are still unclear:

  4. Sep 6, 2016 #3


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    I don't think this is entirely worked out in all cases, but here is a story about a someone studying a mechanism where synapses to be eliminated are in someway decorated with some complement proteins (proteins best know for they involvement in blood clotting). The parts labeled with complement are then eliminated by microglia (which some call the immune cells of the brain).
  5. Sep 11, 2016 #4

    Fervent Freyja

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    I found this interesting, though lengthy: Synaptic pruning in the female hippocampus is triggered at puberty by extrasynaptic GABAAreceptors on dendritic spine
  6. Sep 11, 2016 #5


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    Then you may find the protein of the KISS1 gene interesting (wikipedia).
    Its a ligand for a G-protein receptor that does a bunch of stuff, but at puberty it cranks up GnRH (Gonadotrophic Releasing Hormone) release in the hypothalamus.
    This triggers gonadotrophin release (and may increase gene expression at certain points in development) from other cells (pituitary), which in turn stimulates the gonads (more development and hormone release).
    It all ends up in sex, which then allows the pattern to be repeated in the next generation.
  7. Sep 11, 2016 #6


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    Last edited: Sep 11, 2016
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