Aging is accompanied by a subfield-specific reduction of serotonergic fibers in the tree shrew hippocampal formation

J Chem Neuroanat. 2005 Dec;30(4):221-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jchemneu.2005.08.005. Epub 2005 Sep 16.


The hippocampal formation is a crucial structure for learning and memory, and serotonin together with other neurotransmitters is essential in these processes. Although the effects of aging on various neurotransmitter systems in the hippocampus have been extensively investigated, it is not entirely clear whether or how the hippocampal serotonergic innervation changes during aging. Rat studies, which have mostly focused on aging-related changes in the dentate gyrus, have implied a loss of hippocampal serotonergic fibers. We used the tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri), an intermediate between insectivores and primates, as a model of aging. We applied immunocytochemistry with an antibody against serotonin to assess serotonergic fiber densities in the various hippocampal subfields of adult (0.9-1.3 years) and old (5-7 years) tree shrews. Our results have revealed a reduction of serotonergic fiber densities in the stratum radiatum of CA1 and CA3, and in the stratum oriens of CA3. A partial depletion of serotonin in the hippocampal formation, as can be expected from our current observations, will probably have an impact on the functioning of hippocampal principal neurons. Our findings also indicate that the rat and the tree shrew hippocampal serotonergic innervation show some variations that seem to be differentially affected during aging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers / metabolism*
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Tupaiidae / physiology*


  • Serotonin