Influence of aging on peripheral nervous system: a morphological and morphometric study

Paola Marmiroli, Annalisa Canta, Stefano Buccomino, Cristina Meregalli, Barbara Sala, Mario Bossi, Guido Cavaletti


It is well known that aging influences several functional and structural features of peripheral nerves (Verdù et al., 2000; Ceballos et al., 1999; Jeronimo et al., 2008). However, the role of these changes in the damage/repair mechanisms occurring in acquired peripheral neuropathies is still unclear. To this aim, a multimodal, long-term assessment in a mice model would represent an optimal tool to perform experimental neuropathy studies designed to evaluate the role of aging in relationship with a given nerve injury. In this study we used 40 females one-month-old C57B1/6 mice and we followed-up them for fifteen months. Digital and caudal nerve conduction velocity (NCV) studies were performed monthly to evaluate changes in electrophysiological features; moreover, four animals were sacrificed every two months in order to collect caudal nerve, sciatic nerve, dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and skin for morphological and morphometric analysis. The neurophysiological assessments showed a remarkable increase of caudal NCV until the age of 9 months and then it remained unchanged until the end of the observation period; in the same period, digital NCV increase was also present although less marked. At the pathological level, both caudal and sciatic nerves showed a decrease in fibres density related with age, whereas axon and fibres diameters tended to increase. These preliminary data can be considered a first step aiming at creating a background for future studies on the relationship between aging and peripheral nervous system induced damage.


aging; peripheral nervous system; morphometric analysis; nerve conduction velocity

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