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Neurobiol Aging. 2008 Jan;29(1):39-50. Epub 2006 Nov 7.

Region specific neuron loss in the aged canine hippocampus is reduced by enrichment.

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Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia, University of California, 1226 Gillespie Neuroscience Research Facility, Irvine, CA 92697-4540, USA.


Neuron loss within the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex occurs as a function of age in humans. We first tested the hypothesis that neuron loss occurs in the aged dog. The total unilateral number of neurons in the canine entorhinal cortex and subdivisions of the hippocampus from the left hemisphere were estimated using the optical fractionator. The brains from 5 old (13.0-15.0 years old) and 5 young (3.4-4.5 years old) beagle dogs were analyzed. The hilus of the hippocampus showed a significant loss of neurons (approximately 30%) in the aged dog brain compared to young. Differences were not detected in the remaining hippocampal subfields and entorhinal cortex. We further tested the hypothesis that an antioxidant fortified food or behavioral enrichment would reduce the age-related loss of hilar neurons. Behaviorally enriched aged dogs had more neurons in the hilus (approximately 18%) compared to aged controls. These results suggest that the aged canine hippocampus in the left hemisphere shows selective neuron loss and that behavioral enrichment may reduce this loss.

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