Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 318, Issue 1, pp 81–92 | Cite as

Histological changes of the dopaminergic nigrostriatal system in aging

Review

Abstract

Although the maximum human lifespan has not increased in recent history, average life expectancy has risen dramatically since the beginning of the last century. Lengthening of lifespan has little merit if the quality of life is not preserved. In the elderly, the decline in memory and cognitive abilities is of great concern, as is motor weakening, which increases with age. The dopaminergic system mediates some aspects of manual dexterity, in addition to cognition and emotion, and may be especially vulnerable to aging. Therefore, the aging of this system has both clinical and vocational aspects. This review includes studies quantitating age-related changes of the nigrostriatal system, with emphasis on the use of stereological methods, and provides tables of stereological studies performed in the nigrostriatal system.

Keywords

Stereology Total cell number Postmortem Substantia nigra Parkinson’s disease Alzheimer’s disease Aging 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We acknowledge Drs. Julie E. Yoon and Paul Gosink for critical reading of the manuscript.

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© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Laboratory for Stereology and NeuroscienceBispebjerg University HospitalCopenhagenDenmark

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