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Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1989 Apr;190(4):399-402.

The effect of aging on glutathione and cysteine levels in different regions of the mouse brain.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Louisville, Kentucky 40292.


A general glutathione (GSH) deficiency occurs in many tissues of the aging mouse. However, there is no information on GSH in the aging brain even though it has been involved in a number of neurobiologic reactions. To this end, C57BL/6 mice, 3-31 months old, representing the growth, maturation, and aging periods of the life-span were studied. Brain cortex, hippocampus, and stem samples were dissected, processed, and analyzed specifically for reduced and oxidized glutathione (GSH, GSSG) and cyst(e)ine using high performance liquid chromatography with dual electrochemical detection. The GSH content of each brain region varied in the order brain cortex greater than brain hippocampus greater than brainstem. However, the GSH profiles of all regions were the same through the life-span, namely, high values during growth dropping to a maturation plateau and then decreasing 30% during aging. In contrast to GSH, the order of cysteine levels was brain cortex less than brain hippocampus less than brainstem and no life-span changes occurred in any region. In addition, the brain GSSG and cystine contents of all regions were very low and did not change during the life-span. Thus, the GSH loss was not accountable by oxidation to GSSG or degradation to cyst(e)ine. Altogether these results demonstrated a GSH deficiency in brain tissues of aging mice like that found previously in other tissues. These findings suggest an increased susceptibility of the aging brain to oxidative damage.

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