Lifespan of neurons is uncoupled from organismal lifespan

Lorenzo Magrassi, Ketty Leto, Ferdinando Rossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neurons in mammals do not undergo replicative aging, and, in absence of pathologic conditions, their lifespan is limited only by the maximum lifespan of the organism. Whether neuronal lifespan is determined by the strain-specific lifetime or can be extended beyond this limit is unknown. Here, we transplanted embryonic mouse cerebellar precursors into the developing brain of the longer-living Wistar rats. The donor cells integrated into the rat cerebellum developing into mature neurons while retaining mouse-specific morphometric traits. In their new environment, the grafted mouse neurons did not die at or before the maximum lifespan of their strain of origin but survived as long as 36 mo, doubling the average lifespan of the donor mice. Thus, the lifespan of neurons is not limited by the maximum lifespan of the donor organism, but continues when transplanted in a longerliving host.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4374-4379
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Mar 12 2013


  • Dendrites
  • Purkinje cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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