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Age-related structural and neurochemical changes of the human superior cervical ganglion.

  • Liutkiene, Gineta1
  • Stropus, Rimvydas
  • Pilmane, Mara
  • Dabuzinskiene, Anita
  • 1 Institute of Anatomy, Kaunas University of Medicine, A. Mickeviciaus Street 9, 44307 Kaunas, Lithuania. [email protected] , (Lithuania)
Published Article
Annals of anatomy = Anatomischer Anzeiger : official organ of the Anatomische Gesellschaft
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2007
PMID: 17910404


The aim of this study was to investigate age-related morphological and neurochemical changes in the human superior cervical ganglion (SCG). Thirty-seven superior sympathetic human cervical ganglia of young, adult, and aged subjects were examined using morphometric analysis, biotin-streptavidin immunohistochemistry for detecting neurofilament, myelin protein, protein gene product 9.5, nerve growth factor receptor p75 in sympathetic neurons and nerve fibers. Morphometric parameters of neurons (area, long and short axis, shape factor of the neuron body, nucleus, cytoplasm, and lipofuscin) were investigated in every sixth serial section of the ganglion. Seven hundred neurons with clearly visible nuclei were measured in each studied group. The present study showed that human SCG of older subjects had larger areas of neuron body, cytoplasm and nucleus, a lower shape factor, an increased amount of lipofuscin, and a greater number of large-size neurons, as compared to SCG obtained from young subjects. Neuronal cytoskeletal alterations manifested themselves through a decreased number of neurofilament-positive neurons were detected in old human SCG. The amount of myelinated fibers decreased with age, although the amount of myelinated fibers in the young and the adult subjects varied from few to a moderate number. PGP 9.5 immunoreactivity varied in different age groups. A marked reduction of nerve growth factor receptor p75 in old human sympathetic neurons was detected. In conclusion, the findings of this study confirm age-related morphological changes in the human SCG. Structural neuronal changes may influence the deterioration of neuronal functional capacity, neuronal plasticity, and regenerative characteristics.

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