Polysialylated neural cell adhesion molecule expression by neurons and astroglial processes in the rat dentate gyrus declines dramatically with increasing age

Int J Dev Neurosci. 1995 Nov;13(7):663-72. doi: 10.1016/0736-5748(95)00067-4.


The expression of polysialylated neurons in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampal formation of young (postnatal day 40), mature (postnatal day 80) and aged (postnatal day 540) male Wistar rats has been investigated by immunohistochemical techniques employing a monoclonal antibody specific for neural cell adhesion molecule-linked alpha 2,8 polysialic acid. A strong immunoreactivity was found on the cell bodies, dendrites and axons of granule-like neuronal cells at the border between the hilar region and the granule cell layer of the young rat. In the mature animal the number of immunoreactive neurons declined dramatically and were virtually absent in the aged group. Using an alternative fixation procedure, glial fibrillary acidic protein-positive and polysialylated astroglia processes were found in close proximity to the dendrites of the polysialylated granule-like cells. The number of astroglial processes traversing the granule cell layer showed a similar age-dependent decline to that observed with the polysialylated neurons. Glial fibrillary acidic protein-positive and polysialylated stellate astroglia were present throughout the hippocampal formation, but did not show the marked age-dependent decline observed with the astroglial processes in the granule cell layer. The neuronal dendrites and astroglial processes exhibited a strict numerical ratio in the young and mature animal and, in double immunofluorescence studies with anti-polysialic acid and anti-glial fibrillary acidic protein, the astroglial processes exhibited apparent points of cell and/or dendritic contact. These findings suggest that loss of polysialylated astroglial processes precedes the decline in polysialylated dentate neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Dendrites / metabolism
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Dentate Gyrus / cytology
  • Dentate Gyrus / growth & development*
  • Dentate Gyrus / metabolism*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Direct
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules / biosynthesis*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sialic Acids / metabolism*


  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Sialic Acids