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Neuroscience. 1999;92(1):219-25.

Changes in the axonal conduction velocity of pyramidal tract neurons in the aged cat.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and the Brain Research Institute, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.

Abstract

The present study was undertaken to determine whether age-dependent changes in axonal conduction velocity occur in pyramidal tract neurons. A total of 260 and 254 pyramidal tract neurons were recorded extracellularly in the motor cortex of adult control and aged cats, respectively. These cells were activated antidromically by electrical stimulation of the medullary pyramidal tract. Fast- and slow-conducting neurons were identified according to their axonal conduction velocity in both control and aged cats. While 51% of pyramidal tract neurons recorded in the control cats were fast conducting (conduction velocity greater than 20 m/s), only 26% of pyramidal tract neurons in the aged cats were fast conducting. There was a 43% decrease in the median conduction velocity for the entire population of pyramidal tract neurons in aged cats when compared with that of pyramidal tract neurons in the control cats (P < 0.001, Mann-Whitney U-test). A linear relationship between the spike duration of pyramidal tract neurons and their antidromic latency was present in both control and aged cats. However, the regression slope was significantly reduced in aged cats. This reduction was due to the appearance of a group of pyramidal tract neurons with relatively shorter spike durations but slower axonal conduction velocities in the aged cat. Sample intracellular data confirmed the above results. These observations form the basis for the following conclusions: (i) there is a decrease in median conduction velocity of pyramidal tract neurons in aged cats; (ii) the reduction in the axonal conduction velocity of pyramidal tract neurons in aged cats is due, in part, to fibers that previously belonged to the fast-conducting group and now conduct at slower velocity.

PMID:
10392844
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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