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Neuroscience. 1997 Oct;80(4):1033-40.

Distribution and levels of [125I]IGF-I, [125I]IGF-II and [125I]insulin receptor binding sites in the hippocampus of aged memory-unimpaired and -impaired rats.

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Douglas Hospital Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


The insulin-like growth factors (IGF-I and IGF-II) and insulin are localized within distinct brain regions and their respective functions are mediated by specific membrane receptors. High densities of binding sites for these growth factors are discretely and differentially distributed throughout the brain, with prominent levels localized to the hippocampal formation. IGFs and insulin, in addition to their growth promoting actions, are considered to play important roles in the development and maintenance of normal cell functions throughout life. We compared the anatomical distribution and levels of IGF and insulin receptors in young (five month) and aged (25 month) memory-impaired and memory-unimpaired male Long Evans rats as determined in the Morris water maze task in order to determine if alterations in IGF and insulin activity may be related to the emergence of cognitive deficits in the aged memory-impaired rat. In the hippocampus, [125I]IGF-I receptors are concentrated primarily in the dentate gyrus (DG) and the CA3 sub-field while high amounts of [125I]IGF-II binding sites are localized to the pyramidal cell layer, and the granular cell layer of the DG. [125I]insulin binding sites are mostly found in the molecular layer of the DG and the CA1 sub-field. No significant differences were found in [125I]IGF-I. [125I]IGF-II or [125I]insulin binding levels in any regions or laminae of the hippocampus of young vs aged rats. and deficits in cognitive performance did not relate to altered levels of these receptors in aged memory-impaired vs aged memory-unimpaired rats. Other regions. including various cortical areas, were also examined and failed to reveal any significant differences between the three groups studied. It thus appears that IGF-I, IGF-II and insulin receptor sites are not markedly altered during the normal ageing process in the Long Evans rat, in spite of significant learning deficits in a sub-group (memory-impaired) of aged animals. Hence. recently reported changes in IGF-I receptor messenger RNA levels in aged memory-impaired rats are apparently not reflected at the level of the translated protein.

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