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J Neurosci. 2010 Nov 17;30(46):15686-94. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4316-10.2010.

Regeneration of new neurons is preserved in aged vomeronasal epithelia.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.


During normal and diseased aging, it is thought the capacity for tissue regeneration and repair in neuronal tissues diminishes. In the peripheral olfactory system, stem cell reservoirs permit regeneration of olfactory and vomeronasal sensory neurons, a unique capacity among neurons. Following injury, a large number of new neurons can be regenerated in a young animal. However, it is unknown whether this capacity for renewal exists in aged proliferative populations. Here, we report that neuronal replacement-associated proliferation continues in the vomeronasal organ of aged (18-24 months) mice. In addition, the potential for the aged stem cell to yield a mature neuron persisted at the same rate as that observed in young animals. Furthermore, the robust regenerative capacity to respond to both acute and sustained injury following olfactory bulbectomy remains intact even in very old animals. Hence, the neuronal epithelium lining the vomeronasal organ is unique in that it contains stem cells capable of generating functional neurons throughout life and in the aged animal in particular. This persistent regenerative capacity provides hope for neuronal replacement therapies in the aged nervous system.

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