The expiry date of man: a synthesis of evolutionary biology and public health.
In industrialised countries, mortality and morbidity are dominated by age related chronic degenerative diseases. The health and health care needs of future populations will be heavily determined by these conditions of old age. Two opposite scenarios of future morbidity exist: morbidity might decrease ("compress"), because life span is limited, and the incidence of disease is postponed. Or morbidity might increase ("expand"), because death is delayed more than disease incidence. Optimality theory in evolutionary biology explains senescence as a by product of an optimised life history. The theory clarifies how senescence is timed by the competing needs for reproduction and survival, and why this leads to a generalised deterioration of many functions at many levels. As death and disease are not independent, future morbidity will depend on duration and severity of the process of senescence, partly determined by health care, palliating the disease severity but increasing the disease duration by postponing death. Even if morbidity might be compressed, health care needs will surely expand. (+info)
Developmental synaptic changes increase the range of integrative capabilities of an identified excitatory neocortical connection.
Excitatory synaptic transmission between pyramidal cells and fast-spiking (FS) interneurons of layer V of the motor cortex was investigated in acute slices by using paired recordings at 30 degrees C combined with morphological analysis. The presynaptic and postsynaptic properties at these identified central synapses were compared between 3- and 5-week-old rats. At these two postnatal developmental stages, unitary EPSCs were mediated by the activation of AMPA receptors with fast kinetics at a holding potential of -72 mV. The amplitude distribution analysis of the EPSCs indicates that, at both stages, pyramidal-FS connections consisted of multiple functional release sites. The apparent quantal size obtained by decreasing the external calcium ([Ca2+]e) varied from 11 to 29 pA near resting membrane potential. In young rats, pairs of presynaptic action potentials elicited unitary synaptic responses that displayed paired-pulse depression at all tested frequencies. In older animals, inputs from different pyramidal cells onto the same FS interneuron had different paired-pulse response characteristics and, at most of these connections, a switch from depression to facilitation occurred when decreasing the rate of presynaptic stimulation. The balance between facilitation and depression endows pyramidal-FS connections from 5-week-old animals with wide integrative capabilities and confers unique functional properties to each synapse. (+info)
Low resting potential and postnatal upregulation of NMDA receptors may cause Cajal-Retzius cell death.
Using in situ patch-clamp techniques in rat telencephalic slices, we have followed resting potential (RP) properties and the functional expression of NMDA receptors in neocortical Cajal-Retzius (CR) cells from embryonic day 18 to postnatal day 13, the time around which these cells normally disappear. We find that throughout their lives CR cells have a relatively depolarized RP (approximately -50 mV), which can be made more hyperpolarized (approximately -70 mV) by stimulation of the Na/K pump with intracellular ATP. The NMDA receptors of CR cells are subjected to intense postnatal upregulation, but their similar properties (EC50, Hill number, sensitivity to antagonists, conductance, and kinetics) throughout development suggest that their subunit composition remains relatively homogeneous. The low RP of CR cells is within a range that allows for the relief of NMDA channels from Mg2+ blockade. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that CR cells may degenerate and die subsequent to uncontrolled overload of intracellular Ca2+ via NMDA receptor activation by ambient glutamate. In support of this hypothesis we have obtained evidence showing the protection of CR cells via in vivo blockade of NMDA receptors with dizocilpine. (+info)
Somatic recording of GABAergic autoreceptor current in cerebellar stellate and basket cells.
Patch-clamp recordings were performed from stellate and basket cells in rat cerebellar slices. Under somatic voltage clamp, short depolarizing pulses were applied to elicit action potentials in the axon. After the action potential, a bicuculline- and Cd2+-sensitive current transient was observed. A similar response was obtained when eliciting axonal firing by extracellular stimulation. With an isotonic internal Cl- solution, the peak amplitude of this current varied linearly with the holding potential, yielding an extrapolated reversal potential of -20 to 0 mV. Unlike synaptic or autaptic GABAergic currents obtained in the same preparation, the current transient had a slow rise-time and a low variability between trials. This current was blocked when 10 mM BAPTA was included in the recording solution. In some experiments, the current transient elicited axonal action potentials. The current transient was reliably observed in animals aged 12-15 d, with a mean amplitude of 82 pA at -70 mV, but was small and rare in the age group 29-49 d. Numerical simulations could account for all properties of the current transient by assuming that an action potential activates a distributed GABAergic conductance in the axon. The actual conductance is probably restricted to release sites, with an estimated mean presynaptic current response of 10 pA per site (-70 mV, age 12-15 d). We conclude that in developing rats, stellate and basket cell axons have a high density of GABAergic autoreceptors and that a sizable fraction of the corresponding current can be measured from the soma. (+info)
Fas/Apo [apoptosis]-1 and associated proteins in the differentiating cerebral cortex: induction of caspase-dependent cell death and activation of NF-kappaB.
The developing cerebral cortex undergoes a period of substantial cell death. The present studies examine the role of the suicide receptor Fas/Apo[apoptosis]-1 in cerebral cortical development. Fas mRNA and protein are transiently expressed in subsets of cells within the developing rat cerebral cortex during the peak period of apoptosis. Fas-immunoreactive cells were localized in close proximity to Fas ligand (FasL)-expressing cells. The Fas-associated signaling protein receptor interacting protein (RIP) was expressed by some Fas-expressing cells, whereas Fas-associated death domain (FADD) was undetectable in the early postnatal cerebral cortex. FLICE-inhibitory protein (FLIP), an inhibitor of Fas activation, was also expressed in the postnatal cerebral cortex. Fas expression was more ubiquitous in embryonic cortical neuroblasts in dissociated culture compared to in situ within the developing brain, suggesting that the environmental milieu partly suppresses Fas expression at this developmental stage. Furthermore, FADD, RIP, and FLIP were also expressed by subsets of dissociated cortical neuroblasts in culture. Fas activation by ligand (FasL) or anti-Fas antibody induced caspase-dependent cell death in primary embryonic cortical neuroblast cultures. The activation of Fas was also accompanied by a rapid downregulation of Fas receptor expression, non-cell cycle-related incorporation of nucleic acids and nuclear translocation of the RelA/p65 subunit of the transcription factor NF-kappaB. Together, these data suggest that adult cortical cell number may be established, in part, by an active process of receptor-mediated cell suicide, initiated in situ by killer (FasL-expressing) cells and that Fas may have functions in addition to suicide in the developing brain. (+info)
Metrifonate increases neuronal excitability in CA1 pyramidal neurons from both young and aging rabbit hippocampus.
The effects of metrifonate, a second generation cholinesterase inhibitor, were examined on CA1 pyramidal neurons from hippocampal slices of young and aging rabbits using current-clamp, intracellular recording techniques. Bath perfusion of metrifonate (10-200 microM) dose-dependently decreased both postburst afterhyperpolarization (AHP) and spike frequency adaptation (accommodation) in neurons from young and aging rabbits (AHP: p < 0.002, young; p < 0.050, aging; accommodation: p < 0.024, young; p < 0.001, aging). These reductions were mediated by muscarinic cholinergic transmission, because they were blocked by addition of atropine (1 microM) to the perfusate. The effects of chronic metrifonate treatment (12 mg/kg for 3 weeks) on CA1 neurons of aging rabbits were also examined ex vivo. Neurons from aging rabbits chronically treated with metrifonate had significantly reduced spike frequency accommodation, compared with vehicle-treated rabbits. Chronic metrifonate treatment did not result in a desensitization to metrifonate ex vivo, because bath perfusion of metrifonate (50 microM) significantly decreased the AHP and accommodation in neurons from both chronically metrifonate- and vehicle-treated aging rabbits. We propose that the facilitating effect of chronic metrifonate treatment on acquisition of hippocampus-dependent tasks such as trace eyeblink conditioning by aging subjects may be caused by this increased excitability of CA1 pyramidal neurons. (+info)
Thiamine deficiency is prevalent in a selected group of urban Indonesian elderly people.
This cross-sectional study involved 204 elderly individuals (93 males and 111 females). Subjects were randomly recruited using a list on which all 60-75 y-old-people living in seven sub-villages in Jakarta were included. The usual food intake was estimated using semiquantitative food frequency questionnaires. Hemoglobin, plasma retinol, vitamin B-12, red blood cell folate and the percentage stimulation of erythrocyte transketolase (ETK), as an indicator of thiamine status, were analyzed. Median energy intake was below the assessed requirement. More than 75% of the subjects had iron and thiamine intakes of approximately 2/3 of the recommended daily intake, and 20.2% of the study population had folate intake of approximately 2/3 of the recommended daily intake. Intakes of vitamins A and B-12 were adequate. Biochemical assessments demonstrated that 36.6% of the subjects had low thiamine levels (ETK stimulation > 25%). The elderly men tended to have lower thiamine levels than the elderly women. The overall prevalence of anemia was 28.9%, and the elderly women were affected more than the elderly men. Low biochemical status of vitamins A, B-12 and RBC folate was found in 5.4%, 8.8 % and 2.9% of the subjects, respectively. Dietary intakes of thiamine and folate were associated with ETK stimulation and plasma vitamin B-12 concentration (r = 0.176, P = 0.012 and r = 0.77, P = 0.001), respectively. Results of this study suggest that anemia, thiamine and possibly vitamin B-12 deficiency are prevalent in the elderly living in Indonesia. Clearly, micronutrient supplementation may be beneficial for the Indonesian elderly population living in underprivileged areas. (+info)
High-linoleate and high-alpha-linolenate diets affect learning ability and natural behavior in SAMR1 mice.
Semipurified diets incorporating either perilla oil [high in alpha-linolenate, 18:3(n-3)] or safflower oil [high in linoleate, 18:2(n-6)] were fed to senescence-resistant SAMR1 mouse dams and their pups. Male offspring at 15 mo were examined using behavioral tests. In the open field test, locomotor activity during a 5-min period was significantly higher in the safflower oil group than in the perilla oil group. Observations of the circadian rhythm (48 h) of spontaneous motor activity indicated that the safflower oil group was more active than the perilla oil group during the first and second dark periods. The total number of responses to positive and negative stimuli was higher in the safflower oil group than in the perilla oil group in the light and dark discrimination learning test, but the correct response ratio was lower in the safflower oil group. The difference in the (n-6)/(n-3) ratios of the diets reflected the proportions of (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids, rather than those of (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids in the brain total fatty acids, and in the proportions of (n-6) and (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids in the total polyunsaturated fatty acids of the brain phospholipids. These results suggest that in SAMR1 mice, the dietary alpha-linolenate/linoleate balance affects the (n-6)/(n-3) ratio of brain phospholipids, and this may modify emotional reactivity and learning ability. (+info)