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Exp Gerontol. 2006 Nov;41(11):1117-25. Epub 2006 Oct 18.

Cellular senescence in honey bee brain is largely independent of chronological age.

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Department of Aquaculture and Animal Sciences, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 5003, N-1432 Aas, Norway.


Accumulation of oxidative stress-induced damage in brain tissue plays an important role in the pathogenesis of normal aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Neuronal oxidative damage typically increases with age in humans, and also in the invertebrate and vertebrate model species most commonly used in aging research. By use of quantitative immunohistochemistry and Western blot, we show that this aspect of brain senescence is largely decoupled from chronological age in the honey bee (Apis mellifera). The bee is a eusocial insect characterized by the presence of a reproductive queen caste and a caste of functionally sterile female workers that performs various alloparental tasks such as nursing and foraging. We studied patterns of oxidative nitration and carbonylation damage in the brain of worker bees that performed nurse tasks as 8- and 200-day-olds and foraging tasks as 20- and 200-day-olds. In addition, we examined 180-day-old diutinus bees, a stress-resistant temporal worker form that survives unfavorable periods. Our results indicate that nitration damage occurs only at low levels in vivo, but that a 60-kDa protein from honey bee brain is selectively nitrated by peroxynitrite in vitro. Oxidative carbonylation is present at varying levels in the visual and chemosensory neuropiles of worker bees, and this inter-individual variation is better explained by social role than by chronological age.

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