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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Regional variations and age-related changes in nitric oxide synthase and arginase in the sub-regions of the hippocampus.

L-arginine can be metabolised by nitric oxide synthase (NOS) with the formation of L-citrulline and nitric oxide (NO), or arginase with the production of L-ornithine and urea. In contrast to studies showing a potential involvement of NOS/NO in the aging process, the role of arginase has not been well documented. The present study investigates for the first time the regional variations and age-related changes in both NOS and arginase in sub-regions of the hippocampus. In young adult rats, although the total NOS activity was not significantly different across the hippocampal CA1, CA2/3 and the dentate gyrus (DG) sub-regions, the total arginase activity showed a clear regional variation with the highest level in DG. Western blotting revealed that the highest levels of neuronal NOS (nNOS) and endothelial NOS (eNOS) proteins were located in CA1. Arginase I is expressed at a very low level in the brain (the whole hippocampus) as compared with the liver. By contrast, arginase II protein shows an extremely high expression in the brain with little or no expression in the liver. There was no regional variation in arginase I or arginase II protein expression across the sub-regions of the hippocampus. When a comparison was made between young (4-month-old) and aged (24-month-old) rats, a significant increase in total NOS activity was found in DG and significant decreases in arginase activity were observed in the CA1 and CA2/3 regions in the aged animals. Western blotting further revealed a dramatic decrease in eNOS protein expression in aged CA2/3 with no age- associated changes in nNOS, arginase I and II protein expression in any region examined. Interestingly, evidence of activity or protein expression of the inducible isoform of NOS (iNOS) was not detected in any tissue from either group. The present results, in conjunction with previous findings, support the contribution of NOS/NO to aging but question the involvement of iNOS in the normal aging process. Region-specific changes in arginase suggest that this enzyme may also contribute to aging.[1]


  1. Regional variations and age-related changes in nitric oxide synthase and arginase in the sub-regions of the hippocampus. Liu, P., Smith, P.F., Appleton, I., Darlington, C.L., Bilkey, D.K. Neuroscience (2003) [Pubmed]
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