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Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2006 Feb;32(1):1-14.

Apical vulnerability to dendritic retraction in prefrontal neurones of ageing SAMP10 mouse: a model of cerebral degeneration.

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Department of Pathology, Institute for Developmental Research, Aichi Human Service Center, Kasugai, Aichi 480-0392, Japan.


The SAMP10 mouse is a model of accelerated ageing in which senescence is characterized by age-related atrophy of the cerebral cortex and limbic structures, poor learning and memory task performance with depressive behaviour and cholinergic and dopaminergic alterations. Here we studied age-related changes in the dendritic arbors and spine density of pyramidal cells in the medial prefrontal cortex of SAMP10 mice using a quantitative Golgi method. Dendrites of prefrontal neurones gradually retracted with ageing towards the soma with the relative preservation of overall complexity. Apical dendrites were much more severely affected than basal dendrites. The combined length of the apical dendrites and spine density were decreased by 45% and 55%, respectively, in mice at 12 months, compared with mice at 3 months of age. Immunohistochemical and immunoblot analyses indicated that expression of microtubule-associated protein (MAP) 2, a marker of dendrites, decreased in an age-related manner not only in the anterior cortex but also in the posterior cortex and olfactory structures in SAMP10 mice. Decreased expression of MAP2 mRNA caused the decrease in MAP2 protein expression. These results suggest that retraction of apical, but not of basal dendrites, with a loss of spines in prefrontal neurones, appears to be responsible for poor learning and memory performance in aged SAMP10 mice. It is also suggested that age-related dendritic retraction occurs in a wide area including the entire cerebral cortex and olfactory structures.

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