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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2005 Sep;112(9):1177-99. Epub 2005 Jan 31.

Brain aging phenomena in migrating sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka nerka.

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Department of Psychiatry, Division of Clinical Neurochemistry and NPF Center of Excellence Laboratories, University of Würzburg, Germany.


Aging, a process occurring in all vertebrates, is closely related to a loss in physical and functional abilities. There is widespread interest in clarifying the relevance of environmental, metabolic, and genetic factors for vertebrate aging. In the Pacific salmon a dramatic example of aging is known. Looking for changes in the salmon brain, perhaps even in the role of initiating the aging processes, we investigated several biochemical parameters that should reflect brain functional activity and stress response such as the neurotransmitters dopamine, and serotonin, and two of their respective metabolites 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid, and 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid, as well as glutathione, glutathione disulfide, and the extent of terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP nick end-labelling. The aging of migrating sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka nerka) is accompanied by gradual increase in dopamine and serotonin turnover and a gradual decrease of brain total protein and glutathione levels. There appears to be an increased need for detoxification of reactive biological intermediates since activities of superoxide dismutase and catalase increase with age. However, our data do not support a major increase in apoptotic cell death during late aging but rather implicate an age related downward regulation of protein and glutathione synthesis and proteolysis increasing the need for autophagocytosis or heterophagocytosis in the course of cell death.

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