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Arquivos de Neuro-Psiquiatria

Print version ISSN 0004-282X

Arq. Neuro-Psiquiatr. vol.72 no.10 São Paulo Oct. 2014 


Effects of aging on nitrergic system in human basal nuclei

Efeitos do envelhecimento sobre o sistema nitrérgico dos núcleos da base em humanos

Bruno Lopes dos Santos


Nitric oxide (NO) is a gaseous molecule that plays a role in a number of physiologic processes. The available evidence suggests that NO is a major neurotransmitter involved in motor control and emotion/behavior modulation. To investigate the distribution and morphology of the nitrergic system in human basal nuclei, we studied samples from the striatum, globus pallidus, subthalamic nucleus, substantia nigra and pedunculopontine nucleus of 20 human brains from subjects without neurologic/psychiatric diseases. The samples were stained for NADPH-diaphorase using histochemistry and for neuronal NO synthase using immunohistochemistry. We then analyzed the nitrergic neuronal density and its morphometric parameters. Our data demonstrated that: (I) the most posterior regions of the striatum exhibit a higher neuronal density; (II) the limbic cortex-associated areas of the striatum exhibit higher neuronal density than other functional subdivisions; (III) approximately 90% of the neurons in the subthalamic nucleus express NO; (IV) the pedunculopontine nucleus exhibits a massive nitrergic neuronal density; (V) in the globus pallidus, there is a marked presence of NO neurons in the medial medullary lamina; and (VI) nitrergic neurons were not detected in the substantia nigra. Aging did not change the neuronal density or the morphometric parameters of nitrergic neurons in the analyzed nuclei.

Key words: nitric oxide; basal nuclei; striatum; subthalamic nucleus; aging

Resumo da Dissertação de Mestrado apresentada ao Departamento de Neurociências e Ciências do Comportamento da Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto da Universidade de São Paulo. Área de Neurologia; subárea de Neurologia Clínica. Ribeirão Preto SP, Brasil.

Received: May 14, 2014; Revised: May 27, 2014; Accepted: June 23, 2014

Correspondence: Bruno Lopes dos Santos; Departamento de Neurociências e Ciências do Comportamento, Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto; Av. Bandeirantes, 3900; 14049-900 Ribeirão Preto SP, Brasil; E-mail:

Orientador: Vitor Tumas.

Coorientadora: Elaine A. Del-Bel.

Creative Commons License This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.