Sensory and Memory Processing in Old Female and Male Wistar Rat Brain, and Its Relationship with the Cortical and Hippocampal Redox State


The brain is one of the most sensitive organs damaged during aging due to its susceptibility to the aging-related oxidative stress. Hence, in this study, the sensory nerve pathway integrity and the memory were evaluated and related to the redox state, the antioxidant enzymes function, and the protein oxidative damage in the brain cortex (Cx) and the hippocampus (Hc) of young (4-month-old) and old (24-month-old) male and female Wistar rats. Evoked potentials (EP) were performed for the auditory, visual, and somatosensory pathways. In both males and females, the old rat groups' latencies were larger in almost all waves when compared to the young same-sex animals. The novel object test was performed to evaluate memory. The superoxide dismutase and catalase antioxidant activity, as well as the protein oxidative damage, and the redox state were evaluated. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging was used to obtain the diffusion tensor imaging, and the brain volume, while MR spectroscopy was used to obtain the brain metabolite concentrations (glutamine, glutamate, Myo-inositol, N-acetyl-aspartate, creatine) in the Cx and the Hc of young and old females. Our data suggest that, although there are limited variations regarding memory and nerve conduction velocity by sex, the differences concerning the redox status might be important to explain the dissimilar reactions during brain aging between males and females. Moreover, the increment in Myo-inositol levels in the Hc of old rats and the brain volume decrease suggest that redox state alterations might be correlated to neuroinflammation during brain aging.