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Neurobiol Aging. 1999 Jul-Aug;20(4):395-405.

Increased microglial activation and protein nitration in white matter of the aging monkey.

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Department of Pathology, Boston University School of Medicine, MA 02118, USA.


Activated microglia are important pathological features of a variety of neurological diseases, including the normal aging process of the brain. Here, we quantified the level of microglial activation in the aging rhesus monkey using antibodies to HLA-DR and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). We observed that 3 out of 5 white matter areas but only 1 of 4 cortical gray matter regions examined showed significant increases in two measures of activated microglia with age, indicating that diffuse white matter microglial activation without significant gray matter involvement occurs with age. Substantial levels of iNOS and 3-nitrotyrosine, a marker for peroxynitrite, increased diffusely throughout subcortical white matter with age, suggesting a potential role of nitric oxide in age-related white matter injury. In addition, we found that the density of activated microglia in the subcortical white matter of the cingulate gyrus and the corpus callosum was significantly elevated with cognitive impairment in elderly monkeys. This study suggests that microglial activation increases in white matter with age and that these increases may reflect the role of activated microglia in the general pathogenesis of normal brain aging.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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