Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

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




Journal article


International Journal of Molecular Sciences



Publication Date





6342 - 6342