Aging of cerebral white matter
Ageing Research Reviews
Aging, Axon, Myelin, Neurodegeneration, Stroke, Traumatic brain injury, White matter
White matter (WM) occupies a large volume of the human cerebrum and is mainly composed of myelinated axons and myelin-producing glial cells. The myelinated axons within WM are the structural foundation for efficient neurotransmission between cortical and subcortical areas. Similar to neuron-enriched gray matter areas, WM undergoes a series of changes during the process of aging. WM malfunction can induce serious neurobehavioral and cognitive impairments. Thus, age-related changes in WM may contribute to the functional decline observed in the elderly. In addition, aged WM becomes more susceptible to neurological disorders, such as stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and neurodegeneration. In this review, we summarize the structural and functional alterations of WM in natural aging and speculate on the underlying mechanisms. We also discuss how age-related WM changes influence the progression of various brain disorders, including ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, TBI, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. Although the physiology of WM is still poorly understood relative to gray matter, WM is a rational therapeutic target for a number of neurological and psychiatric conditions.
Liu, H., Yang, Y., Xia, Y., Zhu, W., Leak, R., Wei, Z., Wang, J., & Hu, X. (2017). Aging of cerebral white matter. Ageing Research Reviews, 34, 64-76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arr.2016.11.006