Progressive failure of cerebral angiogenesis supporting neural plasticity in aging rats

Neurobiol Aging. Jul-Aug 1989;10(4):353-8. doi: 10.1016/0197-4580(89)90048-1.


Previous work has demonstrated substantial formation of new synapses and capillary branches in visual cortex of young rats provided with complex experience. Synaptogenesis appears greatly weakened in old rats, however, perhaps because of an age-associated impairment of metabolic support. We have examined capillaries in visual cortex from eight 14-month-old and nine 24-month-old rats that had been kept for 50 days in either a complex environment with toys and other rats or in the standard laboratory condition they had been raised in. In spite of tissue expansion that increased cortical thickness and spread apart existing blood vessels in 14-month-old rats that received complex experience, the density of capillaries was not affected. These results indicate that new capillaries infiltrated the expanding tissue. These rats also had significantly more small-diameter capillaries, possibly reflecting the immaturity of new vessels and effectively reducing the maximum amount of blood available to the tissue. Similar but nonsignificant trends were observed in the 24-month-old animals given complex experience. These results suggest that angiogenesis, while it does occur, is substantially impaired in middle-aged animals, and a failure of angiogenesis in old rats may explain their reduced capacity for synaptogenesis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Capillaries / growth & development*
  • Male
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Visual Cortex / blood supply*