Uspenskaia, Olga; Liebetrau, Martin; Herms, Jochen; Danek, Adrian; Hamann, Gerhard F.
(24. September 2004):
Aging is associated with increased collagen type IV accumulation in the basal lamina of human cerebral microvessels.
In: BMC Neuroscience, Vol. 5, No. 37
Background: Microvascular alterations contribute to the development of stroke and vascular
dementia. The goal of this study was to evaluate age and hypertension related changes of the basal
lamina in cerebral microvessels of individuals, who died from non-cerebral causes.
Results: We examined 27 human brains: 11 young and 16 old patients. Old patients were divided
into two subgroups, those with hypertension (n = 8) and those without hypertension (n = 8). Basal
lamina changes of the cerebral microvessels were determined in the putamen using antibodies
against collagen type IV and by quantitative analysis of vessel number, total stained area of collagen,
thickness of the vessel wall and lumen, and relative staining intensity using immunofluorescence.
The total number of collagen positive vessels per microscopic field was reduced in old compared
to young subjects (12.0+/-0.6 vs. 15.1+/-1.2, p = 0.02). The relative collagen content per vessel
(1.01+/-0.06 vs. 0.76+/-0.05, p = 0.01) and the relative collagen intensity (233.1+/-4.5 vs. 167.8+/-
10.6, p < 0.0001) shown by immunofluorescence were higher in the older compared to the younger
patients with a consecutive reduction of the lumen / wall ratio (1.29+/-0.05 vs. 3.29+/-0.15, p <
0.0001). No differences were observed for these parameters between old hypertensive and nonhypertensive
Conclusions: The present data show age-related changes of the cerebral microvessels in sections
of human putamen for the first time. Due to the accumulation of collagen, microvessels thicken and
show a reduction in their lumen. Besides this, the number of vessels decreases. These findings might
represent a precondition for the development of vascular cognitive impairment. However,
hypertension was not proven to modulate these changes.