Through adulthood, the rodent subventricular zone (SVZ) stem cell niche generates new olfactory bulb interneurons.
It was previously reported that the number of new neurons produced in the SVZ declines through aging; however, age-related changes attributable specifically to the SVZ neural stem cell (NSC) population have not been fully characterized.
A spatiotemporal evaluation of adult SVZ NSCs has been conducted here.
It assessed ventricle-contacting NSCs, which together with ependymal cells form regenerative units (pinwheels) along the lateral wall of the lateral ventricle.
Based on their apical GFAP-expressing process, individual NSCs were identified across the ventricle surface using serial reconstruction of the SVZ.
The decline of 86% was observed in total NSCs/mm2 of intact ependyma in 2-year old versus 3-month-old mice, with fewer NSC processes within each aged pinwheel.
This resulted in an associated 78% decline in total pinwheel units/mm2.
Regional analysis along the lateral ventricle surface revealed that the age-dependent decline of NSCs and pinwheels is spatially uniform and ultimately maintains the conserved ratio of olfactory bulb interneuron subtypes generated in young mice.
However, the overall neurogenic output of the aged SVZ is reduced.
Surprisingly, no significant change in the number of actively proliferating NSCs per mm2 of ventricle surface was found.
Instead, this data reveal that, although the total NSC number, pinwheel units and NSCs per pinwheel decline with age, the percentage of actively, mitotic NSCs increases, indicating that age-related declines in SVZ-mediated olfactory bulb neurogenesis occur downstream of NSC proliferation.