Neocortical glial cell numbers in human brains

Neurobiol Aging. 2008 Nov;29(11):1754-62. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2007.04.013. Epub 2007 Jun 1.


Stereological cell counting was applied to post-mortem neocortices of human brains from 31 normal individuals, age 18-93 years, 18 females (average age 65 years, range 18-93) and 13 males (average age 57 years, range 19-87). The cells were differentiated in astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, microglia and neurons and counting were done in each of the four lobes. The study showed that the different subpopulations of glial cells behave differently as a function of age; the number of oligodendrocytes showed a significant 27% decrease over adult life and a strong correlation to the total number of neurons while the total astrocyte number is constant through life; finally males have a 28% higher number of neocortical glial cells and a 19% higher neocortical neuron number than females. The overall total number of neocortical neurons and glial cells was 49.3 billion in females and 65.2 billion in males, a difference of 24% with a high biological variance. These numbers can serve as reference values in quantitative studies of the human neocortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Cell Count
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neocortex / cytology*
  • Neuroglia / cytology*
  • Young Adult