Clinical and experimental studies have shown that with aging there appear neurological changes which affect both the Central Nervous System (CNS) as well as the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS), bringing about a series of cognitive, sensory and physical disabilities in older people. Nerve lesions also cause disability. The basic mechanisms which begin with lesioned neurons have proved an interesting field of study for many neuroscientists since as far back as the mid-nineteenth century. However the influence of age on these postlesion neuronal processes has not aroused the same level of interest even though many authors have, out of curiosity, published reports of changes which take place in regenerative neurons as a result of age. The progressive increase in the aged population in industrialised nations warrants a detailed study into the influence of age on such neuronal processes. The PNS, due to its accessibility and greater regenerative potential vis-à-vis the CNS, may be a good model for this purpose. From results obtained by both other authors and ourselves it is clear that aging causes a decline in the regenerative abilities of peripheral nerve fibres. Functional recovery is not only slowed down but also decreases with age. The number of regenerative axons and their capacity for end sprouting, together with the biosynthesis and transport of new materials in the regenerative neurons, as well as the proliferation and synthesis of trophic factors by Schwann cells also decay. All of this leads to the fact that the regenerative capacity of nerve fibres is lesser with age, and that functional disabilities after a lesion are greater in older than in younger people.
|Revista de neurologia
|Published - 1 Jan 1995