The aging neurogenic subventricular zone

Aging Cell. 2006 Apr;5(2):139-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2006.00197.x.


In the adult mouse brain, the subventricular zone (SVZ) is a neurogenic stem cell niche only 4-5 cell diameters thick. Within this narrow zone, a unique microenvironment supports stem cell self-renewal, gliogenesis or neurogenesis lineage decisions and tangential migration of newly generated neurons out of the SVZ and into the olfactory bulb. However, with aging, SVZ neurogenesis declines. Here, we examine the dynamic interplay between SVZ cytoarchitecture and neurogenesis through aging. Assembly of high-resolution electron microscopy images of corresponding coronal sections from 2-, 10- and 22-month-old mice into photomontages reveal a thinning of the SVZ with age. Following a 2-h BrdU pulse, we detect a significant decrease in cell proliferation from 2 to 22 months. Neuroblast numbers decrease with age, as do transitory amplifying progenitor cells, while both SVZ astrocytes and adjacent ependymal cells remain relatively constant. At 22 months, only residual pockets of neurogenesis remain and neuroblasts become restricted to the anterior dorsolateral horn of the SVZ. Within this dorsolateral zone many key components of the younger neurogenic niche are maintained; however, in the aged SVZ, increased numbers of SVZ astrocytes are found interposed within the ependyma. These astrocytes co-label with markers to ependymal cells and astrocytes, form intercellular adherens junctions with neighboring ependymal cells, and some possess multiple basal bodies of cilia within their cytoplasm. Together, these data reveal an age-related, progressive restriction of SVZ neurogenesis to the dorsolateral aspect of the lateral ventricle with increased numbers of SVZ astrocytes interpolated within the ependyma.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Astrocytes / ultrastructure
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Ependyma / cytology
  • Ependyma / ultrastructure
  • Lateral Ventricles / cytology*
  • Lateral Ventricles / physiology*
  • Lateral Ventricles / ultrastructure
  • Mice
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism