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Anat Rec. 1991 Mar;229(3):384-98.

Effects of aging on the neuroglial cells and pericytes within area 17 of the rhesus monkey cerebral cortex.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Massachusetts 02118.


An electron microscopic analysis has been carried out to compare the neuroglial cells and pericytes within the primary visual cortex, area 17, of young (5-6 years) and old (25-35 years) rhesus monkeys. All of the neuroglial cell types accumulate inclusions within their cytoplasm as they age, and the inclusions within the astrocytes and oligodendrocytes are essentially characteristic of those cell types. The astrocytes probably acquire their inclusions by phagocytosis, and it is suggested that the inclusions in the oligodendrocytes are caused by an age-related degeneration of the myelin sheaths they produce. The inclusions within the microglia are very heterogeneous. They are more massive than in the other neuroglial cells, so that their inclusions may almost fill the microglia. Pericytes also accumulate inclusions with age and there is evidence to suggest that they empty the contents of their inclusions vacuoles directly into the capillaries. On the basis of counts of the numbers of profiles of neuroglial cells displaying nuclei in thin sections, the only cells to increase in number with age are the microglia. They show an increase of about 44% when the cortices of young and old monkeys are compared.

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