Age-related changes of the myelinated fibers in the human corticospinal tract: a quantitative analysis

Acta Neuropathol. 1994;88(2):137-42. doi: 10.1007/BF00294506.


A quantitative analysis was made of the myelinated fibers in the lateral corticospinal tract (LCST) at the levels of the 6th cervical, 7th thoracic and 4th lumbar spinal segments in 20 patients between 19 and 90 years old, and who died of non-neurological diseases. The diameter frequency histograms of myelinated fibers of LCST showed a bimodal pattern with a sharp peak of the small myelinated fibers and broad slope of the large myelinated fibers. The ratio of small fiber to large fiber densities was significantly higher in the 6th cervical (P < 0.05) and 4th lumbar segments (P < 0.01) than in the 7th thoracic segments. The density of small myelinated fibers was significantly lowered with advancing age (P < 0.05-0.001), while that of large myelinated fibers was not significantly decreased in the aged patients, although it showed a slight age-dependent declining tendency. Age-dependent decline of small fiber density was more prominent in the cervical and lumbar segments. Retraction of the axon-collaterals from large-diameter myelinated fibers, which are abundant in the cervical and lumbar segments, may contribute to the age-related diminution of the small myelinated fibers in the LCST.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / ultrastructure*
  • Pyramidal Tracts / pathology
  • Spinal Cord / pathology*