Histological changes of the dopaminergic nigrostriatal system in aging
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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.