The aim of this study was to investigate changes in astrocyte density, morphology, proliferation and apoptosis occurring in the central nervous system during physiological aging. Astrocytes in retinal whole-mount preparations from Wistar rats aged 3 (young adult) to 25 months (aged) were investigated qualitatively and quantitatively following immunofluorohistochemistry. Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), S100 and Pax2 were used to identify astrocytes, and blood vessels were localized using Griffonia simplicifoli a isolectin B4. Cell proliferation was assessed by bromodeoxyuridine incorporation and cell death by TUNEL-labelling and immunolocalization of the apoptosis markers active caspase 3 and endonuclease G. The density and total number of parenchymal astrocytes in the retina increased between 3 and 9 months of age but decreased markedly between 9 and 12 months. Proliferation of astrocytes was detected at 3 months but virtually ceased beyond that age, whereas the proportion of astrocytes that were TUNEL positive and relative expression of active caspase 3 and endonuclease G increased progressively with aging. In addition, in aged retinas astrocytes exhibited gliosis-like morphology and loss of Pax2 reactivity. A small population of Pax2+/GFAP - cells was detected in both young adult and aged retinas. The reduction in the availability of astrocytes in aged retinas and other aging-related changes reported here may have a significant impact on the ability of astrocytes to maintain homeostasis and support neuronal function in old age.
Bibliographical noteMansour, H., Chamberlain, C. G., Weible II, M. W., Hughes, S., Chu, Y., & Chan‐Ling, T. (2008). Aging‐related changes in astrocytes in the rat retina: imbalance between cell proliferation and cell death reduces astrocyte availability. Aging Cell, 7(4), 526-540. Copyright the Author(s) 2008. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1474-9726.2008.00402.x
- cell counts
- central nervous system
- glial fibrillary acidic protein