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The Effect Of Age And Injury On The Expression Of Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase In Facial Motor Neurons In F344 Rats

J. Jacob, M. Dorheim, P. Grammas
Published 1999 · Biology, Medicine

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Nitric oxide has been implicated in both normal neuronal aging as well as nerve repair events because of its known roles in synaptic plasticity, synaptogenesis and neuroplathologic processes. In this study, we have determined the effect of aging, by comparing brainstem facial motor neurons (FMNs) as well as blood vessels, from adult F344 rats to those in old animals. Inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression was determined both by immunohistochemistry using an antibody to iNOS on tissue sections and slot blots. In adult rats, iNOS expression was detectable only in FMNs and not in blood vessels. In old rats, there were robust levels of iNOS protein in blood vessels, while iNOS protein was not detectable in FMNs from old rats. There was also a 12-fold increase in iNOS expression in isolated blood vessels from old rats compared to vessels from adult animals. To determine the effect of injury on iNOS expression, the facial nerve was transected and immunocytochemistry performed as above. After nerve transection in adult rats, iNOS was demonstrable only in blood vessels after 1 day, but by 7 days iNOS protein immunoreactivity was robust in FMNs. In old animals, iNOS protein expression was observed only in FMNs at 1 day, but by 7 days after injury, protein immunoreactivity was localized to the blood vessels. These data suggest that aging and injury differentially affect the expression of iNOS and that the up-regulation of iNOS may be important for the availability of nitric oxide in the aged or injured nervous system.
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