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Morphological changes in nerve cells during normal aging


During normal aging, widespread loss of nerve cells does not occur. Neuronal loss is limited to restricted regions of the nervous system and is slight (probably no more than 10%). The commonest age-related structural changes undergone by nerve cells are as follows: dendrites decrease in number and length and many dendritic spines are lost; axons decrease in number and their myelin sheaths may become less compact and undergo segmental demyelination followed by remyelination; and significant loss of synapses occurs. These changes probably make a significant contribution to the behavioral impairment and cognitive decline that often accompany normal aging.

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Correspondence to Ennio Pannese.

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Pannese, E. Morphological changes in nerve cells during normal aging. Brain Struct Funct 216, 85–89 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-011-0308-y

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  • Axons
  • Dendrites
  • Dendritic spines
  • Myelin
  • Neuron numbers
  • Synapses