Changes in carbohydrate expression in the cervical spinal cord of rats during aging

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Aging is a process where histochemical changes occur. Some of these may consist of age-dependent loss of expression of some cell markers. Conversely, cell markers not expressed in young animals may be detectable in their older counterparts. Histochemical age changes in carbohydrate profiles in the spinal cord have not been documented. In order to fill this information gap lectin histochemistry and image analysis were used to characterize the histochemical age changes occurring in the cervical segments of the rat spinal cord. From a battery of 11 lectins, the more important age changes were detected withGlicine maximus(SBA)-lectin. Thus, SBA-lectin neuronal staining which was moderately positive in the cervical segments of young animals was negative in old rats. In contrast the same lectin which did not react with the ependyma of young animals strongly bound to the ependyma of senescent rats. None of the tested lectins bound to glial cells, either in young or old animals. In no case the senile animals evidenced anatomopathological changes. We conclude that although in the aged spinal cord changes in lectin histochemical binding patterns occur, they do not reflect a pathologic situation.

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