Effect of age on synaptic size in human brain tissue proximal to tumor masses.
ABSTRACT To measure the effect of age on synaptic morphologic rearrangements in human brain tissue peripheral to space-occupying lesions.
Synaptic length (L) was measured interactively by computer-assisted image analysis in brain tissue samples from adult (mean age, 39 years) and old (mean age, 67.2 years) patients. Each group consisted of five subjects.
L was reduced by 9% in the old vs. adult group of patients. A percent distribution of the data showed that junctional areas smaller than 0.25 micron accounted for 47.2% in old patients and 31% in the adults.
The present findings are in contrast with current literature data documenting a significant increase in the percent of enlarged contact zones in the senile brain. We interpret these results in terms of synaptic dynamic morphology and suggest that they may reflect alterations of neuronal adaptive capabilities due both to the pathologic condition and age of the patients.