Caspase-3 immunoreactivity in different cortical areas of young and aging macaque (Macaca mulatta) monkeys

Aiqun Zhang, Dietrich E. Lorke, Sheng Xi Wu, David T. Yew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


It has been shown that cytochrome-c-dependent caspase-3 activation is significantly elevated in the aging macaque brain. To assess the underlying age-related changes in the cellular distribution of caspase-3, we have examined the motor cortex, cerebellum and hippocampus of young (4-year-old, n = 4) and old (20-year-old, n = 4) rhesus monkeys by immunohistochemistry. Western blot analyses of brain homogenate showed that the antibody reacted only with inactive 32-kDa procaspase and its active 20- and 17-kDa subunits, formed after granzyme B exposure. In the motor cortex, pyramidal cells of layers III and V were moderately labeled; the underlying white matter contained weakly stained astrocytes. In the hippocampus, hilar neurons and pyramidal cells in CA3 showed the strongest immunoreaction, pyramidal cells in CA1 and granule cells of the dentate gyrus were also strongly labeled. In contrast, CA2 pyramidal cells were only weakly stained, and neurons of the molecular layer were unlabeled. Weak caspase-3 immunoreaction of CA2 neurons parallels known decreased susceptibility to apoptosis. In the cerebellar cortex, clusters of strongly labeled Purkinje cells were observed next to groups of weakly and unstained cells; granule cells were generally unstained. The brains of aging monkeys displayed a similar pattern of caspase-3 immunoreactivity. In neocortical layer V, however, scattered very strongly labeled pyramidal cells were regularly detected, which were not observed in youngeranimals. This clustering of caspase-3 indicates increased vulnerability of a subset of pyramidal cells in the aging brain.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)64-73
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2006


  • Apoptosis
  • Cerebellum
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Hippocampus
  • Primate


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