Neurogenesis in a rat model of age-related cognitive decline

Aging Cell. 2004 Aug;3(4):227-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9728.2004.00099.x.


Age-related decrements in hippocampal neurogenesis have been suggested as a basis for learning impairment during aging. In the current study, a rodent model of age-related cognitive decline was used to evaluate neurogenesis in relation to hippocampal function. New hippocampal cell survival was assessed approximately 1 month after a series of intraperitoneal injections of 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU). Correlational analyses between individual measures of BrdU-positive cells and performance on the Morris water maze task provided no indication that this measure of neurogenesis was more preserved in aged rats with intact cognitive abilities. On the contrary, among aged rats, higher numbers of BrdU-positive cells in the granule cell layer were associated with a greater degree of impairment on the learning task. Double-labelling studies confirmed that the majority of the BrdU+ cells were of the neuronal phenotype; the proportion of differentiated neurons was not different across a broad range of cognitive abilities. These data demonstrate that aged rats that maintain cognitive function do so despite pronounced reductions in hippocampal neurogenesis. In addition, these findings suggest the interesting possibility that impaired hippocampal function is associated with greater survival of newly generated hippocampal neurons at advanced ages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / analysis
  • Hippocampus / chemistry
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / analysis
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans


  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Bromodeoxyuridine