In the rodent brain, diverse functions are topographically distributed within the hippocampus. For instance, the dorsal (septal) hippocampus is involved in spatial memory, whereas the ventral (temporal) hippocampus is related to emotion and anxiety. Accumulating evidence shows that age-dependent decline in hippocampal neurogenesis is associated with impairments of these functions. However, little is known about whether the decline in dentate granule cell production during aging follows a topographic pattern. Here we quantitatively estimated specific populations of adult-born cells in young adult and middle-aged mice by using endogenous markers and determined whether age-dependent reductions in adult neurogenesis exhibited topographic differences. The numerical densities (NDs) of putative primary progenitors, intermediate neuronal progenitors, and neuronal lineages were higher in the dorsal dentate gyrus (DG) than in the ventral DG both in young adult and in middle-aged mice, but the ratios of the NDs in the dorsal DG to the NDs in the ventral DG noticeably increased with age. The age-related reductions in the numbers of these populations were larger in the ventral DG than in the dorsal DG. By contrast, the NDs of glial lineages were higher in the ventral DG than in the dorsal DG during life, and the numbers of glial lineages showed no significant age-related changes. Our findings suggest that neurogenesis, but not gliogenesis, wanes faster in the ventral hippocampus than in the dorsal hippocampus during aging. Such age-related topographic changes in hippocampal neurogenesis might be implicated in memory and affective impairments in older people.
© 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.