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J Neuroendocrinol. 1999 Apr;11(4):251-8.

Activity of vasopressinergic neurones of the human supraoptic nucleus is age- and sex-dependent.

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Netherlands Institute for Brain Research, Amsterdam.


In the human hypothalamus, arginine-vasopressin (AVP) is produced for a major part by the neurones of the supraoptic nucleus (SON). Since plasma AVP levels in men were reported to be higher than those of women and we did not find a sex difference in the neurone number, a higher vasopressinergic neurone activity was supposed to be present in the SON of men. Therefore we studied the size of the Golgi-apparatus (GA), which has been demonstrated previously to be a sensitive parameter for protein synthetic ability of neurones, in 15 men and 17 women ranging in age from 29 to 94 years. A polyclonal antibody against immunoaffinity purified MG-160, a sialoglycoprotein of the medial cisternae of the GA was applied on paraffin-embedded sections containing the dorsolateral SON (dl-SON) from which 90-95% of neurones are vasopressinergic. SON areas that contain oxytocin (OT) cells were excluded on the basis of adjacent sections stained with a monoclonal antibody against OT. By means of an image analysis system the size of the GA and the cellular profile area were determined in dl-SON neurones with a nucleolus. Our results showed indeed an age-dependent sex difference in the size of the GA that appeared to be twice as large in young men (< or = 50 years old) than in young women of the same age. The size of the GA increased with age in women but not in men. In addition, the mean cell profile area, another measure for neuronal activity, was significantly larger in young men than in young women and was in old women larger than in young women. In conclusion, these data show the presence of a sex-dependent age-difference in the activity of vasopressinergic neurones in dl-SON which may relate to differences in AVP and sex hormone levels and kidney AVP receptors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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