The effects of normal aging on myelin and nerve fibers: a review.
ABSTRACT It was believed that the cause of the cognitive decline exhibited by human and non-human primates during normal aging was a loss of cortical neurons. It is now known that significant numbers of cortical neurons are not lost and other bases for the cognitive decline have been sought. One contributing factor may be changes in nerve fibers. With age some myelin sheaths exhibit degenerative changes, such as the formation of splits containing electron dense cytoplasm, and the formation on myelin balloons. It is suggested that such degenerative changes lead to cognitive decline because they cause changes in conduction velocity, resulting in a disruption of the normal timing in neuronal circuits. Yet as degeneration occurs, other changes, such as the formation of redundant myelin and increasing thickness suggest of sheaths, suggest some myelin formation is continuing during aging. Another indication of this is that oligodendrocytes increase in number with age. In addition to the myelin changes, stereological studies have shown a loss of nerve fibers from the white matter of the cerebral hemispheres of humans, while other studies have shown a loss of nerve fibers from the optic nerves and anterior commissure in monkeys. It is likely that such nerve fiber loss also contributes to cognitive decline, because of the consequent decrease in connections between neurons. Degeneration of myelin itself does not seem to result in microglial cells undertaking phagocytosis. These cells are probably only activated when large numbers of nerve fibers are lost, as can occur in the optic nerve.
SourceAvailable from: Valerio Rizzo[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Several studies using vertebrate and invertebrate animal models have shown aging associated changes in brain function. Importantly, changes in soma size, loss or regression of dendrites and dendritic spines and alterations in the expression of neurotransmitter receptors in specific neurons were described. Despite this understanding, how aging impacts intrinsic properties of individual neurons or circuits that govern a defined behavior is yet to be determined. Here we discuss current understanding of specific electrophysiological changes in individual neurons and circuits during aging.Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 02/2015; 6. DOI:10.3389/fnagi.2014.00337 · 2.84 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The trochlear and abducens nerves (TN and AN) control the movement of the superior oblique and lateral rectus muscles of the eyeball, respectively. Despite their immense clinical and radiological importance no morphometric data was available from a wide spectrum of age groups for comparison with either pathological or other conditions involving these nerves. In the present study, morphometry of the TN and AN was performed on twenty post-mortem samples ranging from 12-90 years of age. The nerve samples were processed for resin embedding and toluidine blue stained thin (1µm) sections were used for estimating the total number of myelinated axons by fractionator and the cross sectional area of the nerve and the axons by point counting methods. We observed that the TN was covered by a well-defined epineurium and had ill-defined fascicles, whereas the AN had multiple fascicles with scanty epineurium. Both nerves contained myelinated and unmyelinated fibers of various sizes intermingled with each other. Out of the four age groups (12-20y, 21-40y, 41-60y and >61y) the younger groups revealed isolated bundles of small thinly myelinated axons. The total number of myelinated fibers in the TN and AN at various ages ranged from 1100-3000 and 1600-7000, respectively. There was no significant change in the cross-sectional area of the nerves or the axonal area of the myelinated nerves across the age groups. However, myelin thickness increased significantly in the AN with aging (one way ANOVA). The present study provides baseline morphometric data on the human TN and AN at various ages.02/2015; 6(1):6-16. DOI:10.14336/AD.2014.0310
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ABSTRACT: White matter tracts are highly vulnerable to damage from impact-acceleration forces of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Mild TBI is characterized by a low density of traumatic axonal injury, whereas associated myelin pathology is relatively unexplored. We examined the progression of white matter pathology in mice after mild TBI with traumatic axonal injury localized in the corpus callosum. Adult mice received a closed-skull impact and were analyzed from 3 days to 6 weeks post-TBI/sham surgery. At all times post-TBI, electron microscopy revealed degenerating axons distributed among intact fibers in the corpus callosum. Intact axons exhibited significant demyelination at 3 days followed by evidence of remyelination at 1 week. Accordingly, bromodeoxyuridine pulse-chase labeling demonstrated the generation of new oligodendrocytes, identified by myelin proteolipid protein messenger RNA expression, at 3 days post-TBI. Overall oligodendrocyte populations, identified by immunohistochemical staining for CC1 and/or glutathione S-transferase pi, were similar between TBI and sham mice by 2 weeks. Excessively long myelin figures, similar to redundant myelin sheaths, were a significant feature at all post-TBI time points. At 6 weeks post-TBI, microglial activation and astrogliosis were localized to areas of axon and myelin pathology. These studies show that demyelination, remyelination, and excessive myelin are components of white matter degeneration and recovery in mild TBI with traumatic axonal injury.This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License, where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially.Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 02/2015; 74(3). DOI:10.1097/NEN.0000000000000165 · 4.37 Impact Factor