• cingulate cortex;
  • stereology;
  • GAD67;
  • interneuron


For many years, aging was thought to be accompanied by significant decreases in total neuron number across multiple brain regions. However, this view was revised with the advent of modern quantification methods, and it is now widely accepted that the hippocampus and many regions of the cortex show substantially preserved numbers of neurons during normal aging. Nonetheless, age-related changes in neuron number do occur in focal regions of the primate prefrontal cortex (PFC), but the question of whether age-related neuron loss is an exclusive characteristic of the PFC in primates remains relatively unexplored. To investigate the loss of neurons with normal aging in rodents, we used unbiased stereological methods to quantify the number of principal neurons and interneurons in the PFC of young and aged rats. We observed a significant age-related decline in the number of principal neurons in the dorsal PFC. The number of interneurons positively stained with antibodies to glutamic acid decarboxylase 67 was also reduced in the dorsal PFC of aged rats. These observations indicate that the dorsal PFC is susceptible to neuron loss with aging in rodent brain and suggest some common basis for vulnerability in cortical circuits across species. J. Comp. Neurol. 520:1318–1326, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.