Existence of long-lasting experience-dependent plasticity in endocrine cell networks

David J Hodson, Marie Schaeffer, Nicola Romanò, Pierre Fontanaud, Chrystel Lafont, Jerome Birkenstock, François Molino, Helen Christian, Joe Lockey, Danielle Carmignac, Marta Fernandez-Fuente, Paul Le Tissier, Patrice Mollard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Experience-dependent plasticity of cell and tissue function is critical for survival by allowing organisms to dynamically adjust physiological processes in response to changing or harsh environmental conditions. Despite the conferred evolutionary advantage, it remains unknown whether emergent experience-dependent properties are present in cell populations organized as networks within endocrine tissues involved in regulating body-wide homeostasis. Here we show, using lactation to repeatedly activate a specific endocrine cell network in situ in the mammalian pituitary, that templates of prior demand are permanently stored through stimulus-evoked alterations to the extent and strength of cell-cell connectivity. Strikingly, following repeat stimulation, evolved population behaviour leads to improved tissue output. As such, long-lasting experience-dependent plasticity is an important feature of endocrine cell networks and underlies functional adaptation of hormone release.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Calcium
  • Cell Communication
  • Endocrine System
  • Female
  • Homeostasis
  • Lactation
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Photons
  • Pituitary Gland


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