We have previously reported free radical production after traumatic brain injury (TBI), which induces neural stem cell (NSC) degeneration and death. However, the effects of aging on NSC proliferation around the damaged area following TBI have not been investigated. Therefore, in this study, we used 10-week (young group) and 24-month-old (aged group) rat TBI models to investigate the effects of aging on NSC proliferation around damaged tissue using immunohistochemical and ex vivo techniques. Young and aged rats received TBI. At 1, 3 and 7 days after TBI, immunohistochemical and lipid peroxidation studies were performed. Immunohistochemistry revealed that the number of nestin-positive cells around the damaged area after TBI in the aged group decreased signiﬁcantly when compared with those in the young group (P\0.01). However, the number of 8-hydroxy-20-deoxyguanosine-, 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal- and single-stranded DNA (ssDNA)-positive cells and the level of peroxidation around the damaged area after TBI significantly increased in the aged group, compared with those in the young group (P\0.01). Furthermore, almost all ssDNA-positive cells in young and aged groups co-localized with NeuN and nestin staining. Ex vivo studies revealed that neurospheres, which differentiated into neurons and glia in culture, could only be isolated from injured brain tissue in young and aged groups at 3 days after TBI.
These results indicate that, although there were fewer NSCs that have the potential to differentiate into neurons and glia, these NSCs escaped free radical-induced degeneration around the damaged area after TBI in the aged rat brain.