Age-Related Dendritic Changes of Spiny and Aspiny Neurons in the Rodent Striatum

  • José A. Rafols
  • Thomas H. McNeill
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 32)


The structure of the neuron changes continuously throughout its lifespan. Both growth and regression of its processes (i.e., dendrites, axon) have been reported in young and old brains (Hinds and McNelly, 1977, 1981; Flood et al., 1985). Such changes, far from homogenous, seem to be specific to the species, brain center or even a cell population. Morphological studies have reported age-correlated declines in the number of cells both in the substantia nigra (McGeer et al., 1977) and in the striatum (Bugiani et al., 1978; Mensah, 1979) of rat and man. Recently, age-correlated perikaryal changes were reported (McNeill et al., 1984) in some of the A-10 and in all of the A-9 dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain of the C57BL/6NNIA mouse. However, in spite of recent advances in the cellular and synaptic organization of the striatum (Kemp and Powell, 1971; Fox et al., 1971; DiFiglia et al., 1976, 1980; Rafols and Fox, 1979; Wilson and Groves, 1980; Dimova et al., 1981; Chang et al., 1982), no information exists on the changes occurring in striatal dendrites with advancing age. The present study was carried out to document the changes occurring in dendritic morphology of three different populations of striatal neurons. These changes must consequently bring about alterations in the normal striatal circuitry and their associated transmitter systems. They may also help explain recent concepts implicating them with some of the deficits of motor function that occur with advancing age (Hodkinson, 1980).


Dendritic Spine Dendritic Growth Primary Dendrite Striatal Neuron Dendritic Arbor 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • José A. Rafols
    • 1
  • Thomas H. McNeill
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA

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