The effect of calorie restriction on age-related white matter degeneration in rhesus monkeys
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Calorie restriction (CR) is one of the few treatments that has been observed to significantly extend life in a wide variety of species. While its life-extending properties are still being investigated in primates, there is general agreement that it reduces oxidative stress and inflammation. Interestingly, there is some evidence that it may ameliorate or delay the onset of a number of neurodegenerative diseases, including age-related white matter degeneration. The processes underlying its neuroprotective effects in non-human primates are unknown, but oxidative stress and inflammation are potential contributors to age-related white matter pathologies that characterize aging in the monkey brain and correlate with cognitive decline. To determine if CR reduces damage due to oxidative stress and inflammation in the monkey brain, brains from four calorie restricted monkeys and four matched controls brains were processed for immunohistochemical analysis using an antibody against the pro-inflammatory protein S100b. S100b is a widely expressed calcium-binding cytoplasmic protein associated with neurological insults like ischemia, atrophy, and neurofibrillary tangles and plaques in Alzheimer's disease. It is primarily expressed in astrocytes, but is also expressed to a lesser extent in microglia, oligodendrocytes, and some neuronal populations. Stereology was used to estimate density of S100b labeling in the cingulum, corpus callosum and visual cortex. No significant difference between calorie restricted animals and controls was found. More specific markers of oxidative stress and inflammation may be more effective in revealing any significant differences between CR and control brains. Potential alternatives include antibodies against 4-hydroxynonenal, a lipid peroxidation product, and encephalitogenic peptides of myelin basic protein, which are only exposed to the extracellular environment when myelin is damaged.