Neuroglial activation is a typical hallmark of ageing within the hippocampus, and correlates with age-related cognitive deficits. We have used quantitative immunohistochemistry and morphometric analyses to investigate whether systemic treatment with the Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule (NCAM)-derived peptide FG Loop (FGL) specifically alters neuroglial activation and population densities within the aged rat hippocampus (22 months of age). A series of 50 μm paraformaldehyde/acrolein-fixed sections taken throughout the dorsal hippocampus (5 animals per group) were immunostained to detect astrocytes (GFAP and S100β) and microglial cells (CD11b/OX42 and MHCII/OX6), and analysed using computerised image analysis and optical segmentation (Image-Pro Plus, Media Cybernetics). FGL treatment reduced the density of CD11b+ and MHCII+ microglia in aged animals, concomitant with a reduction in immunoreactivity for these phenotypic markers. FGL treatment also markedly reduced GFAP immunoreactivity within all hippocampal subfields in aged animals, without exerting an appreciable effect on the density of S100β+ cells. These results demonstrate that FGL can indeed regulate neuroglial activation and reduce microglial cell density in the aged hippocampus, and support its potential use as a therapeutic agent in age-related brain disorders.Highlights
□ A neural cell adhesion molecule mimetic (FGL) was administered s.c. in aged rats. □ Quantitative morphometry and image analyses demonstrated that FGL attenuated glial cell activation in hippocampus. □ FGL treatment reduced the density of phenotypic markers for CD11b+ and MHCII+ microglia in hippocampus of aged animals.