In Vitro Aging Revisited: The Longevity of Cultured Neurons
Almost half a century ago, Leonard Hayflick reported that normal diploid fibroblasts can grow and age on cultured dishes in vitro and proposed that normal fibroblasts have a limited “replicative” lifespan, which was later termed the Hayflick limit. This limit was a paradigm of the cellular senescence of dividing cells. In contrast, it is not well-known how non-dividing cells, such as neurons and muscles, grow and age in vitro over a long time course in a culture dish. There is growing evidence that neurons dissociated from various brain areas, such as the cerebral neocortex or hippocampus, can survive for several months in culture dishes. Neurons initially proliferate, form mature synapses, and begin to exhibit aging associated with synaptic loss and neuronal elimination. The long-term cultured neurons in vitro seem to represent many similar aspects of physiological and possibly pathological aging that occur in vivo. The usefulness of this system as a new model for the investigation of non-replicative post-mitotic neuronal aging can be discussed.
KeywordsAging Brain Cellular aging Longevity Neuron Primary culture
The author would like to thank Drs. Y. Yamaguchi, K. Ohyama, and G. Matsumoto for their contribution to this work, and Ms. K. Onga and Ms. A. Okamoto for their excellent technical assistance. This work was supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research, Challenging Exploratory Research, and also in part by the Asian CORE Program of the Japan Society of Promotion of Science (JSPS): Asian Aging Core for Longevity .
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