The impact of aging on subregions of the hippocampal complex in healthy adults

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The hippocampal complex, an anatomical composite of several subregions, is known to decrease in size with increasing age. However, studies investigating which subregions are particularly prone to age-related tissue loss revealed conflicting findings. Possible reasons for such inconsistencies may reflect differences between studies in terms of the cohorts examined or techniques applied to define and measure hippocampal subregions. In the present study, we enhanced conventional MR-based information with microscopically defined cytoarchitectonic probabilities to investigate aging effects on the hippocampal complex in a carefully selected sample of 96 healthy subjects (48 males/48 females) aged 18–69 years. We observed significant negative correlations between age and volumes of the cornu ammonis, fascia dentata, subiculum, and hippocampal-amygdaloid transition area, but not the entorhinal cortex. The estimated age-related annual atrophy rates were most pronounced in the left and right subiculum with −0.23% and −0.22%, respectively. These findings suggest age-related atrophy of the hippocampal complex overall, but with differential effects in its subregions. If confirmed in future studies, such region-specific information may prove useful for the assessment of diseases and disorders known to modulate age-related hippocampal volume loss.

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