Neurotransmitters in neocortex of aged rhesus monkeys
Nerve Tissue Proteins
The effects of aging on levels of neurotransmitters were determined in two regions of the cerebral cortex in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activity as well as somatostatin, neuropeptide Y, and substance P immunoreactivities were analyzed in the right caudal cingulate gyrus and in the left and right inferior occipital poles in five age groups: 4-6 years; 8-11 years; 20-25 years; 26-29 years; and 31-34 years. Neuroactive amino acids and markers for monoamine transmitters were analyzed only in the youngest (4-6 years) and oldest (31-34 years) animals. Across the five age groups studied. ChAT activity as well as somatostatin and neuropeptide Y immunoreactivities were significantly decreased bilaterally in occipital poles of the 31- to 34-year-old group. There were no significant age-related differences in substance P immunoreactivity. In 4-6-year-old vs. 31-34-year-old monkeys, levels of amino acid neurotransmitters were unchanged. However, there were significant reductions in norepinephrine, serotonin and its metabolites, kynurenine, and 4-hydroxyphenyllactic acid in occipital poles of the 31- to 34-year-old monkeys. No significant neurochemical changes were detected in the cingulate cortex. These findings demonstrate that aged nonhuman primates show reductions in cortical markers for a variety of neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine, somatostatin, neuropeptide Y, norepinephrine, and serotonin but that these changes do not occur uniformly in the neocortex.