STEREOLOGICAL EVIDENCE FOR DE/RE-GENERATION OF MYELIN SHEATHS IN AGED BRAIN WHITE MATTER OF FEMALE RATS

Chen Li, Lei Zhang, Qiaoya Ma, Yong Tang, Ya He

Abstract


Studies have provided qualitative evidence of de-myelination and re-myelination in aged brain white matter. However, there have been no quantitative evidences of degeneration and regeneration of myelin sheaths in white matter. The present study was designed to investigate the quantitative changes in myelin sheaths using unbiased stereological techniques and qualitative changes using electron microscopy in aged brain white matter. Results obtained showed that in brain white matter, the total volume of myelin sheaths of old-age female rats was not significantly different from that of young female rats, but the total length of myelinated fibers in old female rats was significantly decreased by 46.1% when compared with that of young female rats. Myelin sheath volume per unit length of myelinated fibers of old female rats was significantly increased by 43.4% compared with that of young female rats. The mean thickness of myelin sheaths in the white matter of the old rats was significantly increased by 33.3%, when compared with that of young female rats. In age-related loss of myelinated fibers, most fibers had diameters less than 1.4 μm, and myelin sheath thicknesses less than 0.14 μm, but the length of myelinated fibers with diameters more than 0.6 μm and myelin sheath thicknesses more than 0.22 μm increased with age. Myelinated fibers with ratios of myelin sheath thicknesses to myelinated fiber external diameter less than 0.21 were significantly lower in elderly rats than in young rats. However, the total length of myelinated fibers with ratios of myelin sheath thicknesses to myelinated fiber external diameter more than 0.23 was higher in aged rats than in young rats. About 6.58% of myelin sheaths showed degenerative alterations, while 0.88% myelin sheaths showed regenerative alterations. This study provides stereological evidence not only for degeneration but also regeneration of myelin sheaths in aged white matter. 


Keywords
aging; de/re-myelination; myelin sheath; stereology; white matter

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DOI: 10.5566/ias.1436

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Image Analysis & Stereology
EISSN 1854-5165 (Electronic version)
ISSN 1580-3139 (Printed version)