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Mech Ageing Dev. 2004 Jul;125(7):513-6.

Growth-associated proteins and regeneration-induced gene expression in the aging neuron.

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Gerontology Division, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, 330 Brookline Avenue, Rabb 440, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Axonal elongation and sprouting during regeneration are retarded with aging but the etiology of this is unclear. We investigated whether this age-associated decline is related to a decline in expression of three different growth-associated proteins (GAPs): alpha(1)-tubulin, neurofilament (NF) light subunit (NF-L) and GAP-43. Northern analysis was performed on L4-L5 dorsal root ganglia (DRG) of young (3 months) and aged (23 months) rats following a sciatic nerve crush and compared to their age-matched controls. The results show that initial mRNA levels of alpha(1)-tubulin and NF-L in the control aged rat DRG were half those of the control young adults, whereas expression of GAP-43 was unchanged. Two weeks after axotomy, the expression of alpha(1)-tubulin and GAP-43 in the aged DRG was induced to the same levels as in the axotomized young adult, and the expression of NF-L decreased proportionately in both age groups. These results indicate that certain neuronal mRNAs, such as alpha(1)-tubulin and NF-L may be maintained at lower levels in aging DRG neurons, whereas others, such as GAP-43 appear to be unaltered. However, during regeneration, the aging DRG neuron appears capable of inducing alpha(1)-tubulin, NF-L and GAP-43 as well as the young adult.

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