Journal of Neurocytology

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 215–228 | Cite as

Ultrastructure of neurons in the auditory cortex of ageing rats: a morphometric study

  • Deborah W. Vaughan
  • Jane M. Vincent


The cell bodies of pyramidal cells in layers II and V of rat auditory cortex were quantitatively examined in groups of rats 3, 6, 15, 23, 27 and 34–36 months of age. The mean diameters of cell bodies of both layer II and layer V neurons, as measured in 1 μm plastic sections, increased between 3 and 15 months of age, then decreased to a diameter that was less in the 36-month-old than in the 3-month-old rats. Morphometry of the nuclei of the cells was done by measuring nuclear area and nuclear envelope length directly on electron micrographs. In the layer II cells, neither parameter changed with advancing age. In the layer V cells, the mean nuclear area decreased significantly in the old animals and the mean envelope length increased. Point-counting techniques were applied to electron micrographs of cell bodies to determine the relative volume of selected organelles, inclusions and ground substance in the perikaryal cytoplasm. In this part of the study the chronological pattern of change in layer II and layer V pyramidal cells was similar. The relative volume of dense bodies increased linearly with advancing age, with a slightly more accelerated rate in layer II cells. The relative volume of ground substance remained essentially constant through 27 months, and then at 34–36 months decreased to 83% and 89% of the three-month level in layer V and layer II, respectively. The relative volume of the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) did not change significantly until after 15 months, at which time it began to occupy increasingly a larger fraction of the perikaryal cytoplasm. Finally, the relative volumes of mitochondria, multivesicular bodies and Golgi apparatus did not show clear trends of change during the 33-month period.


Relative Volume Cell Body Pyramidal Cell Nuclear Envelope Auditory Cortex 
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Copyright information

© Chapman and Hall Ltd. 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah W. Vaughan
    • 1
  • Jane M. Vincent
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA

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