Age-dependent decrease in the activity of succinic dehydrogenase in rat CA1 pyramidal cells: A quantitative cytochemical study

Carlo Bertoni-Freddari, Patrizia Fattoretti, Ugo Caselli, Roberta Paoloni, William Meier-Ruge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A computer-assisted morphometric study has been carried out on the ultrastructure of perikaryal CA1 pyramidal cell mitochondria positive to the copper ferricyanide cytochemical reaction for succinic dehydrogenase (SDH) in rats of 3, 12 and 23 months of age. The cytoplasmic volume fraction occupied by the positive mitochondria (Volume density: V(V), the number of organelles/μm3 of CA1 pyramidal cell cytoplasm (Numerical density: N(V) and the average mitochondrial volume (V) were automatically calculated by means of computer-assisted morphometry. V(V) was significantly decreased in 23-month-old animals versus the other age groups. N(V) was unchanged between 3 and 12 months of age, but was decreased to a significant extent in old animals. V did not undergo significant changes in the three age groups taken into account. In the old animals the percent of organelles smaller than 0.16 μm3 is above 20%, while in the young and adult groups the same size of mitochondria accounts for 7 and 3%, respectively. Thus, a reduction in the number of medium sized organelles appears to be responsible for the decrease in V(V) due to age. Since SDH activity is known to support maximum rates of respiration, quantitative estimation of the active mitochondria provides information on the metabolic competence of the cells investigated when energy demand is high. In this context, our present findings document that a significant impairment in the efficiency to match actual energy provisions occurs in old CA1 pyramidal cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-62
Number of pages10
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 9 1996


  • Brain aging
  • CA1 pyramidal cells
  • Mitochondrial morphometry
  • Neuronal metabolic competence
  • Neuronal metabolism
  • Succinic dehydrogenase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Biochemistry
  • Developmental Biology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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