Neurochemical alterations but not nerve cell loss in aged rat neostriatum

J Chem Neuroanat. 1993 May-Jun;6(3):131-45. doi: 10.1016/0891-0618(93)90023-w.


Numerical changes in the overall neostriatal neuronal population have been investigated by morphometric analysis of Nissl-stained and glucocorticoid receptor-immunoreactive neurons. Number and staining intensity of various chemically-identified nerve cell populations were analysed by means of immunocytochemistry coupled with computer-assisted image analysis. Three- and 24-month-old male Sprague-Dawley rats were used. No change in the number of Nissl-stained, glucocorticoid receptor-, dopamine and adenosine 3':5'-monophosphate-regulated phosphoprotein- and enkephalin-immunoreactive neurons and a 50% decrease of neuropeptide Y-immunoreactive neurons were observed in the aged rat. In our preparations, the glucocorticoid receptor antibody stains around 90% of the neostriatal neurons, the dopamine and adenosine 3':5'-monophosphate-regulated phosphoprotein and enkephalin antibodies label 25-35% and the neuropeptide Y antibody stains only 1% of neostriatal neurons. In the same preparations a significant decrease in the intensity of immunostaining was observed for enkephalin-, dopamine and adenosine 3':5'-monophosphate-regulated phosphoprotein- and neuropeptide Y-immunoreactive neuronal cell bodies and tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive nerve terminals in the aged rat. In the case of neuropeptide Y- and dopamine and adenosine 3':5'-monophosphate-regulated phosphoprotein-immunoreactive neurons, the changes in the intensity of immunostaining were differentially compartmentalized within neostriatum, suggesting selective vulnerability of striatal subregions to ageing processes. In conclusion, these data indicate that no significant age-related neuronal cell loss occurs in neostriatum. On the other hand, a generalized decrease in the levels of peptide transmitters and molecules related to dopamine transmission is observed in aged rat neostriatum, possibly resulting in the known age-related deficits of neostriatally-controlled behaviours.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Densitometry
  • Dopamine / immunology
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Dopamine and cAMP-Regulated Phosphoprotein 32
  • Enkephalins / immunology
  • Enkephalins / metabolism
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Neostriatum / metabolism
  • Neostriatum / pathology*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / immunology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neuropeptide Y / immunology
  • Neuropeptide Y / metabolism
  • Phosphoproteins / immunology
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / immunology
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism


  • Dopamine and cAMP-Regulated Phosphoprotein 32
  • Enkephalins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Dopamine