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Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2015 Jan;35(1):33-44. doi: 10.1007/s10571-014-0115-0. Epub 2014 Oct 2.

Age-associated changes of nitric oxide concentration dynamics in the central nervous system of Fisher 344 rats.

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Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, Coimbra, Portugal.


The increase in life expectancy is accompanied by an increased risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders and age is the most relevant risk factor for the appearance of cognitive decline. While decreased neuronal count has been proposed to be a major contributing factor to the appearance of age-associated cognitive decline, it appears to be insufficient to fully account for the decay in mental function in aged individuals. Nitric oxide ((•)NO) is a ubiquitous signaling molecule in the mammalian central nervous system. Closely linked to the activation of glutamatergic transmission in several structures of the brain, neuron-derived (•)NO can act as a neuromodulator in synaptic plasticity but has also been linked to neuronal toxicity and degenerative processes. Many studies have proposed that changes in the glutamate-(•)NO signaling pathway may be implicated in age-dependent cognitive decline and that the exact effect of such changes may be region specific. Due to its peculiar physical-chemical properties, namely hydrophobicity, small size, and rapid diffusion properties, the rate and pattern of (•)NO concentration changes are critical determinants for the understanding of its bioactivity in the brain. Here we show a detailed study of how (•)NO concentration dynamics change in the different regions of the brain of Fisher 344 rats (F344) during aging. Using microelectrodes inserted into the living brain of anesthetized F344 rats, we show here that glutamate-induced (•)NO concentration dynamics decrease in the hippocampus, striatum, and cerebral cortex as animals age. performance in behavior testing of short-term and spatial memory, suggesting that the impairment in the glutamate:nNOS pathway represents a functional critical event in cognitive decline during aging.

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