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As aging and cognitive decline progresses, the impact of a sedentary lifestyle on the appearance of environment-dependent cellular morphologies in the brain becomes more apparent. Sedentary living is also associated with poor oral health, which is known to correlate with the rate of cognitive decline. Here, we will review the evidence for the interplay between mastication and environmental enrichment and assess the impact of each on the structure of the brain. In previous studies, we explored the relationship between behavior and the morphological features of dentate gyrus glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-positive astrocytes during aging in contrasting environments and in the context of induced masticatory dysfunction. Hierarchical cluster and discriminant analysis of GFAP-positive astrocytes from the dentate gyrus molecular layer revealed that the proportion of AST1 (astrocyte arbors with greater complexity phenotype) and AST2 (lower complexity) are differentially affected by environment, aging and masticatory dysfunction, but the relationship is not straightforward. Here we re-evaluated our previous reconstructions by comparing dorsal and ventral astrocyte morphologies in the dentate gyrus, and we found that morphological complexity was the variable that contributed most to cluster formation across the experimental groups. In general, reducing masticatory activity increases astrocyte morphological complexity, and the effect is most marked in the ventral dentate gyrus, whereas the effect of environment was more marked in the dorsal dentate gyrus. All morphotypes retained their basic structural organization in intact tissue, suggesting that they are subtypes with a non-proliferative astrocyte profile. In summary, the increased complexity of astrocytes in situations where neuronal loss and behavioral deficits are present is counterintuitive, but highlights the need to better understand the role of the astrocyte in these conditions.

Original publication

DOI

10.3390/ijms23116342

Type

Journal article

Journal

International Journal of Molecular Sciences

Publisher

MDPI AG

Publication Date

06/06/2022

Volume

23

Pages

6342 - 6342