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1.  Late-life enalapril administration induces nitric oxide-dependent and independent metabolic adaptations in the rat skeletal muscle 
Age  2012;35(4):1061-1075.
Recently, we showed that administration of the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor enalapril to aged rats attenuated muscle strength decline and mitigated apoptosis in the gastrocnemius muscle. The aim of the present study was to investigate possible mechanisms underlying the muscle-protective effects of enalapril. We also sought to discern the effects of enalapril mediated by nitric oxide (NO) from those independent of this signaling molecule. Eighty-seven male Fischer 344 × Brown Norway rats were randomly assigned to receive enalapril (n = 23), the NO synthase (NOS) inhibitor NG-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (l-NAME; n = 22), enalapril + l-NAME (n = 19), or placebo (n = 23) from 24 to 27 months of age. Experiments were performed on the tibialis anterior muscle. Total NOS activity and the expression of neuronal, endothelial, and inducible NOS isoforms (nNOS, eNOS, and iNOS) were determined to investigate the effects of enalapril on NO signaling. Transcript levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1α) were assessed to explore actions of enalapril on inflammation and mitochondrial biogenesis, respectively. Protein expression of energy-sensing and insulin signaling mediators, including protein kinase B (Akt-1), phosphorylated Akt-1 (pAkt-1), mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), AMP-activated protein kinase subunit alpha (AMPKα), phosphorylated AMPKα (pAMPKα), and the glucose transporter GLUT-4, was also determined. Finally, the generation of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) was quantified in subsarcolemmal (SSM) and intermyofibrillar (IFM) mitochondria. Enalapril increased total NOS activity, which was prevented by l-NAME co-administration. eNOS protein content was enhanced by enalapril, but not by enalapril + l-NAME. Gene expression of iNOS was down-regulated by enalapril either alone or in combination with l-NAME. In contrast, protein levels of nNOS were unaltered by treatments. The mRNA abundance of TNF-α was reduced by enalapril relative to placebo, with no differences among any other group. PCG-1α gene expression was unaffected by enalapril and lowered by enalapril + l-NAME. No differences in protein expression of Akt-1, pAkt-1, AMPKα, pAMPKα, or GLUT-4 were detected among groups. However, mTOR protein levels were increased by enalapril compared with placebo. Finally, all treatment groups displayed reduced SSM, but not IFM H2O2 production relative to placebo. Our data indicate that enalapril induces a number of metabolic adaptations in aged skeletal muscle. These effects result from the concerted modulation of NO and angiotensin II signaling, rather than from a dichotomous action of enalapril on the two pathways. Muscle protection by enalapril administered late in life appears to be primarily mediated by mitigation of oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory signaling.
PMCID: PMC3705103  PMID: 22639176
Aging; Nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms; Mitochondria; mTOR; Glucose tolerance; l-NAME; Inflammation; ACE inhibitors
2.  Inhibition of NF-κB-induced inflammatory responses by angiotensin II antagonists in aged rat kidney 
Experimental gerontology  2011;46(7):542-548.
In this study, we explored the mechanisms by which the angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEI), enalapril, and the Ang II receptor blocker (ARB), losartan suppress oxidative stress and NF-κB activation-induced inflammatory responses in aged rat kidney. The experimentations were carried out utilizing aged (24-month-old) Brown Norway x Fischer 344 (F1) male rats which were randomized into 3 groups and administered enalapril (40 mg/kg), losartan (30 mg/kg) or placebo for 6 months (daily p.o.). The level of reactive species (RS), peroxynitrite (ONOO−), GSH/GSSG and lipid peroxidation were measured. The activity of the pro-inflammatory transcription factor NF-κB, and gene expression of proteins in upstream signaling cascades were measured by electro-mobility shift assay (EMSA) and Western blotting. Enalapril and losartan differentially attenuated redox imbalance and the redox-sensitive transcription factor, NF-κB pathway. Furthermore, stimulation of the NF-κB activation pathway by phosphorylation of p65 was attenuated by both compounds. Moreover, mediation of phosphorylation of p65 by phosphorylation of IκB kinase αβ (IKKαβ) and mitogen- and stress-activated protein kinase-1 (MSK1), were also inhibited by enalapril and losartan. Finally, both compounds also lowered expression of NF-κB-dependent inflammatory genes, such as cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2),) and inducible NO synthase (iNOS). Only losartan lowered levels of 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX). These findings indicate that enalapril and losartan differentially suppress inflammatory responses via inhibition of oxidative stress-induced NF-κB activation in aged rat kidney.
PMCID: PMC3104080  PMID: 21377515
3.  Differential effects of enalapril and losartan on body composition and indices of muscle quality in aged male Fischer 344 × Brown Norway rats 
Age  2010;33(2):167-183.
The primary purpose of the present set of studies was to provide a direct comparison of the effects of the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor enalapril and the angiotensin receptor blocker losartan on body composition, physical performance, and muscle quality when administered late in life to aged rats. Overall, enalapril treatment consistently attenuated age-related increases in adiposity relative to both placebo and losartan. The maximal effect was achieved after 3 months of treatment (between 24 and 27 months of age), at a dose of 40 mg/kg and was observed in the absence of any changes in physical activity, body temperature, or food intake. In addition, the reduction in fat mass was not due to changes in pathology given that enalapril attenuated age-related increases in tumor development relative to placebo- and losartan-treated animals. Both enalapril and losartan attenuated age-related decreases in grip strength, suggesting that changes in body composition appear dissociated from improvements in physical function and may reflect a differential impact of enalapril and losartan on muscle quality. To link changes in adiposity to improvements in skeletal muscle quality, we performed gene array analyses to generate hypotheses regarding cell signaling pathways altered with enalapril treatment. Based on these results, our primary follow-up pathway was mitochondria-mediated apoptosis of myocytes. Relative to losartan- and placebo-treated rats, only enalapril decreased DNA fragmentation and caspase-dependent apoptotic signaling. These data suggest that attenuation of the severity of skeletal muscle apoptosis promoted by enalapril may represent a distinct mechanism through which this compound improves muscle strength/quality.
PMCID: PMC3127467  PMID: 21153712
Age-related adiposity; Body composition; Sarcopenia; Renin–angiotensin system; Physical function; Muscle quality
4.  Differential effects of late-life initiation of low-dose enalapril and losartan on diastolic function in senescent Fischer 344 × Brown Norway male rats 
Age  2011;34(4):831-843.
No proven pharmacological therapies to delay or reverse age-related diastolic dysfunction exist. We hypothesized that late-life low-dose (non-blood-pressure-lowering) angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition vs. angiotensin II receptor blockade would be equally efficacious at mitigating diastolic dysfunction in the senescent Fischer 344 × Brown Norway rat. Enalapril (10 mg/kg/day; n = 9) initiated at 24 months of age and continued for 6 months, increased myocardial relaxation (e'), reduced Doppler-derived indices of filling pressure (E/e'), favorably lowered the ratio of phospholamban–SERCA2 and reduced oxidative stress markers, Rac1 and nitrotyrosine, in aged hearts. Treatment with losartan (15 mg/kg/day; n = 9) similarly mitigated signs of cardiac oxidative stress, but impairments in diastolic function persisted when compared with untreated rats (n = 7). Our findings favor the idea that the lusitropic benefit of low-dose angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor initiated late in life may be related to an antioxidant-mediated modulation of SERCA2, resulting in improved relaxation rather than via overt effects on cardiac structure or blood pressure.
PMCID: PMC3682061  PMID: 21720770
Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor; Angiotensin II receptor blocker; Diastolic dysfunction; Oxidative stress; SERCA2; Tissue Doppler
5.  Effect of Aging and Obesity on Insulin Responsiveness and Glut-4 Glucose Transporter Content in Skeletal Muscle of Fischer 344 × Brown Norway Rats 
This study investigated the metabolic changes with age in the Fischer 344 × Brown Norway rat and its suitability as an animal model of postmaturational insulin resistance. Specifically, we determined whether an age-associated decrease in glucose disposal is associated with diminished whole body insulin responsiveness and/or a decrease in glucose transporter (GLUT-4) protein and mRNA content in medial gastrocnemius muscle of male Fischer 344 × Brown Norway rats of ages 8, 18, and 28 months. Fasting plasma glucose was unchanged with age. There was a significant age effect on visceral adiposity, fasting plasma insulin levels, insulin responsiveness, and GLUT-4 protein content. Insulin responsiveness and GLUT-4 protein were lower in the 18-month-old rats than in the 8-month-old rats. The findings of age-associated increases in visceral adiposity and insulin resistance, and decreases in GLUT-4 in the Fisher 344 × Brown Norway rat, suggest that this rat strain may be an appropriate model for studying the effects of aging on glucose homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC2714732  PMID: 11682570
6.  Heterogeneous Effects of Calorie Restriction on In Vivo Glucose Uptake and Insulin Signaling of Individual Rat Skeletal Muscles 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65118.
Calorie restriction (CR) (consuming ∼60% of ad libitum, AL, intake) improves whole body insulin sensitivity and enhances insulin-stimulated glucose uptake by isolated skeletal muscles. However, little is known about CR-effects on in vivo glucose uptake and insulin signaling in muscle. Accordingly, 9-month-old male AL and CR (initiated when 3-months-old) Fischer 344xBrown Norway rats were studied using a euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp with plasma insulin elevated to a similar level (∼140 µU/ml) in each diet group. Glucose uptake (assessed by infusion of [14C]-2-deoxyglucose, 2-DG), phosphorylation of key insulin signaling proteins (insulin receptor, Akt and Akt substrate of 160kDa, AS160), abundance of GLUT4 and hexokinase proteins, and muscle fiber type composition (myosin heavy chain, MHC, isoform percentages) were determined in four predominantly fast-twitch (epitrochlearis, gastrocnemius, tibialis anterior, plantaris) and two predominantly slow-twitch (soleus, adductor longus) muscles. CR did not result in greater GLUT4 or hexokinase abundance in any of the muscles, and there were no significant diet-related effects on percentages of MHC isoforms. Glucose infusion was greater for CR versus AL rats (P<0.05) concomitant with significantly (P<0.05) elevated 2-DG uptake in 3 of the 4 fast-twitch muscles (epitrochlearis, gastrocnemius, tibialis anterior), without a significant diet-effect on 2-DG uptake by the plantaris or either slow-twitch muscle. Each of the muscles with a CR-related increase in 2-DG uptake was also characterized by significant (P<0.05) increases in phosphorylation of both Akt and AS160. Among the 3 muscles without a CR-related increase in glucose uptake, only the soleus had significant (P<0.05) CR-related increases in Akt and AS160 phosphorylation. The current data revealed that CR leads to greater whole body glucose disposal in part attributable to elevated in vivo insulin-stimulated glucose uptake by fast-twitch muscles. The results also demonstrated that CR does not uniformly enhance either insulin signaling or insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in all muscles in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3670927  PMID: 23755179
7.  Greater insulin sensitivity in calorie restricted rats occurs with unaltered circulating levels of several important myokines and cytokines 
Calorie restriction (CR; ~60% of ad libitum, AL intake) has been associated with substantial alterations in body composition and insulin sensitivity. Recently, several proteins that are secreted by nontraditional endocrine tissues, including skeletal muscle and other tissues, have been discovered to modulate energy metabolism, body composition, and insulin sensitivity. The aim of this study was to characterize the influence of CR by rats on plasma levels of six of these newly recognized metabolic hormones (BDNF, FGF21, IL-1β, myonectin, myostatin, and irisin). Body composition of 9-month old male Fischer-344/Brown Norway rats (AL and CR groups) was determined by nuclear magnetic resonance. Blood sampled from the carotid artery of unanesthetized rats was used to measure concentrations of glucose and plasma proteins. As expected, CR versus AL rats had significantly altered body composition (reduced percent fat mass, increased percent lean mass) and significantly improved insulin sensitivity (based on the homeostasis model assessment-estimated insulin resistance index). Also consistent with previous reports, CR compared to AL rats had significantly greater plasma levels of adiponectin and corticosterone. However, there were no significant diet-related differences in plasma levels of BDNF, FGF21, IL-1β, myonectin, myostatin, or irisin. In conclusion, these results indicate that alterations in plasma concentration of these six secreted proteins are not essential for the CR-related improvement in insulin sensitivity in rats.
PMCID: PMC3541154  PMID: 23067400
Myonectin; Myostatin; FGF21; Irisin; Insulin resistance; Dietary restriction; Adiponectin; FNDC5
8.  Iron Accumulation with Age, Oxidative Stress and Functional Decline 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(8):e2865.
Identification of biological mediators in sarcopenia is pertinent to the development of targeted interventions to alleviate this condition. Iron is recognized as a potent pro-oxidant and a catalyst for the formation of reactive oxygen species in biological systems. It is well accepted that iron accumulates with senescence in several organs, but little is known about iron accumulation in muscle and how it may affect muscle function. In addition, it is unclear if interventions which reduced age-related loss of muscle quality, such as calorie restriction, impact iron accumulation. We investigated non-heme iron concentration, oxidative stress to nucleic acids in gastrocnemius muscle and key indices of sarcopenia (muscle mass and grip strength) in male Fischer 344 X Brown Norway rats fed ad libitum (AL) or a calorie restricted diet (60% of ad libitum food intake starting at 4 months of age) at 8, 18, 29 and 37 months of age. Total non-heme iron levels in the gastrocnemius muscle of AL rats increased progressively with age. Between 29 and 37 months of age, the non-heme iron concentration increased by approximately 200% in AL-fed rats. Most importantly, the levels of oxidized RNA in gastrocnemius muscle of AL rats were significantly increased as well. The striking age-associated increase in non-heme iron and oxidized RNA levels and decrease in sarcopenia indices were all attenuated in the calorie restriction (CR) rats. These findings strongly suggest that the age-related iron accumulation in muscle contributes to increased oxidative damage and sarcopenia, and that CR effectively attenuates these negative effects.
PMCID: PMC2481398  PMID: 18682742
9.  Chronic ingestion of 2-deoxy-D-glucose induces cardiac vacuolization and increases mortality in rats 
Toxicology and applied pharmacology  2009;243(3):332-339.
Calorie restriction (CR), the purposeful reduction of energy intake with maintenance of adequate micronutrient intake, is well known to extend the lifespan of laboratory animals. Compounds like 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2DG) that can recapitulate the metabolic effects of CR are of great interest for their potential to extend lifespan. 2DG treatment has been shown to have potential therapeutic benefits for treating cancer and seizures. 2DG has also recapitulated some hallmarks of the CR phenotype including reduced body temperature and circulating insulin in short-term rodent trials, but one chronic feeding study in rats found toxic effects. The present studies were performed to further explore the long-term effects of 2DG in vivo. First we demonstrate that 2DG increases mortality of male Fischer-344 rats. Increased incidence of pheochromocytoma in the adrenal medulla was also noted in the 2DG treated rats. We reconfirm the cardiotoxicity of 2DG in a 6-week follow-up study evaluating male Brown Norway rats and a natural form of 2DG in addition to again examining effects in Fischer-344 rats and the original synthetic 2DG. High levels of both 2DG sources reduced weight gain secondary to reduced food intake in both strains. Histopathological analysis of the hearts revealed increasing vacuolarization of cardiac myocytes with dose, and tissue staining revealed the vacuoles were free of both glycogen and lipid. We did, however, observe higher expression of both cathepsin D and LC3 in the hearts of 2DG-treated rats which indicates an increase in autophagic flux. Although a remarkable CR-like phenotype can be reproduced with 2DG treatment, the ultimate toxicity of 2DG seriously challenges 2DG as a potential CR mimetic in mammals and also raises concerns about other therapeutic applications of the compound.
PMCID: PMC2830378  PMID: 20026095
Deoxyglucose; Calorie restriction; Lifespan; Mortality; Cardiac vacuolarization
10.  The effects of aging on the functional and structural properties of the rat basilar artery 
Physiological Reports  2014;2(6):e12031.
Aging leads to progressive pathophysiological changes in blood vessels of the brain and periphery. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of aging on cerebral vascular function and structure. Basilar arteries were isolated from male Fischer 344 cross Brown Norway (F344xBN) rats at 3, 8, and 24 months of age. The basilar arteries were cannulated in the pressurized system (90 cm H2O). Contractile responses to KCl (30–120 mmol/L) and endothelin‐1 (10−11–10−7 mol/L) were evaluated. Responses to acetylcholine (ACh) (10−10–10−4 mol/L), diethylamine (DEA)‐NONO‐ate (10−10–10−4 mol/L), and papaverin (10−10–10−4 mol/L) were assessed to determine both endothelium‐dependent and endothelium‐independent responsiveness. Advanced aging (24 months) decreased responses of the basilar artery to both the contractile and relaxing agents; whereas, DEA‐induced dilation was significantly higher in the 8‐month‐old group compared with the younger and older groups. The arterial wall‐to‐lumen ratio was significantly increased in 24‐month‐old rats. Smooth muscle cell count was also decreased in old rats. These findings indicate that aging produces dysfunction of both the endothelium and the vascular smooth muscle in the basilar artery. Aging also alters wall structure of the basilar artery, possibly through decreases in smooth muscle cell number and concomitant hypertrophy.
The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of advancing age on the structure and vasomotor responses of the basilar artery as well as the serum antioxidant capacity. Advanced aging (24 months) decreased responses of the basilar artery to both the contractile and relaxing agents, whereas, DEA‐induced dilation was significantly higher in the 8‐month‐old group compared with the younger and older rats. The arterial wall‐to‐lumen ratio was significantly increased in 24‐month‐old rats. Smooth muscle cell count was also decreased in old rats. Our findings demonstrate that aging is associated with functional impairment in endothelium‐dependent and ‐independent relaxation responses and contractility in the basilar arteries, and these diminished responses are accompanied by structural remodeling and decreased antioxidant capacity of the serum.
PMCID: PMC4208653  PMID: 24907295
Acetylcholine; aging; antioxidant capacity; basilar artery; endothelin; NO; papaverin; vascular smooth muscle; vasoreactivity; vertebrobasilar insufficiency
11.  Comparison of Temporal Transcriptomic Profiles from Immature Lungs of Two Rat Strains Reveals a Viral Response Signature Associated with Chronic Lung Dysfunction 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e112997.
Early life respiratory viral infections and atopic characteristics are significant risk factors for the development of childhood asthma. It is hypothesized that repeated respiratory viral infections might induce structural remodeling by interfering with the normal process of lung maturation; however, the specific molecular processes that underlie these pathological changes are not understood. To investigate the molecular basis for these changes, we used an established Sendai virus infection model in weanling rats to compare the post-infection transcriptomes of an atopic asthma susceptible strain, Brown Norway, and a non-atopic asthma resistant strain, Fischer 344. Specific to this weanling infection model and not described in adult infection models, Sendai virus in the susceptible, but not the resistant strain, results in morphological abnormalities in distal airways that persist into adulthood. Gene expression data from infected and control lungs across five time points indicated that specific features of the immune response following viral infection were heightened and prolonged in lungs from Brown Norway rats compared with Fischer 344 rats. These features included an increase in macrophage cell number and related gene expression, which then transitioned to an increase in mast cell number and related gene expression. In contrast, infected Fischer F344 lungs exhibited more efficient restoration of the airway epithelial morphology, with transient appearance of basal cell pods near distal airways. Together, these findings indicate that the pronounced macrophage and mast cell responses and abnormal re-epithelialization precede the structural defects that developed and persisted in Brown Norway, but not Fischer 344 lungs.
PMCID: PMC4249857  PMID: 25437859
Dysphagia  2010;26(3):256-263.
Age-related tongue weakness may contribute to swallowing deficits in the elderly. One contributing factor may be an alteration in muscle fiber type properties with aging. However, it is not clear how muscle fiber types within the aged tongue may vary from those found in young adults, or how fiber types may vary across the anteroposterior axis of the extrinsic tongue muscles. We examined myosin heavy chain (MHC) composition of anterior, medial, and posterior sections of the genioglossus muscle (GG) in 10 old male Fischer 344/Brown Norway rats and compared findings to previously reported data from young adult male rats. Significant differences (p< .01) between young adult and old rats were found in the distribution of MHC isoforms along the anteroposterior axis of the muscle. In the anterior, medial, and posterior regions, there was a significantly smaller proportion of type IIb MHC in the old rat GG muscles, while the proportion of type IIx MHC was significantly greater. In the medial region, the proportion of type I MHC was found to be significantly greater in the old rats. Thus, we found a shift to more slowly contracting muscle fibers in the aged rat tongue.
PMCID: PMC2998581  PMID: 20809174
Tongue; Dysphagia; Myosin heavy chain; Aging; Deglutition; Deglutition Disorders
13.  Effect of aging on rat skeletal muscle β-AR function in male Fischer 344 × Brown Norway rats 
The American journal of physiology  1996;270(2 Pt 2):R462-R468.
In this study, we tested the hypothesis that, in the male Fischer 344 × Brown Norway (F344xBN) rat, aging would be associated with an increase in sympathetic nervous system activity and a decrease in skeletal muscle β-adrenergic-receptor (β-AR) density and function. Radioligand-binding studies using [125I]iodocyanopindolol were done to evaluate β-AR density (Bmax) and antagonist-binding affinity in gastrocnemius and cardiac muscle from 6-, 18-, and 28-mo-old male F344xBN rats. β-AR function was measured as adenylyl cyclase (AC) activity stimulated by the β-AR agonist isoproterenol (Iso, 10−4 M). Basal arterial plasma norepinephrine (pNE) concentrations were higher in the 28-than in the 6- and 18-mo-old rats. Bmax was greatest and Iso-stimulated AC activity was unchanged in gastrocnemius muscle of the 28-mo-old age group. In contrast, there was an age-associated decrease in Bmax and Iso-stimulated AC activity in cardiac muscle. In conclusion, there was an age-associated increase in pNE concentrations in male F344xBN rats, suggesting an increase in sympathetic nervous system activity. In addition, there was an age-associated increase in skeletal muscle β-AR density, whereas in skeletal muscle β-AR-stimulated AC activity remained unchanged with age.
PMCID: PMC2714882  PMID: 8779880
adenylyl cyclase; catecholamines; sympathetic nervous system; isoproterenol; forskolin
14.  A persistent increase in insulin-stimulated glucose uptake by both fast-twitch and slow-twitch skeletal muscles after a single exercise session by old rats 
Age  2012;35(3):573-582.
Exercise has been demonstrated to enhance subsequent insulin-stimulated glucose uptake (GU) by predominantly type II (fast-twitch) muscle of old rats, but previous research has not evaluated exercise effects on GU by type I (slow-twitch) muscle from old rats. Accordingly, we studied male Fischer 344/Brown Norway rats (24 months old) and determined GU (0, 100, 200, and 5,000 μU/ml insulin) of isolated soleus (predominantly type I) and epitrochlearis (predominantly type II) muscles after one exercise session. Epitrochlearis (100, 200, and 5,000 μU/ml insulin) and soleus (100 and 200 μU/ml insulin) GU were greater at 3-h postexercise vs. age-matched sedentary controls. Insulin receptor tyrosine phosphorylation (Tyr1162/1163) was unaltered by exercise in either muscle. Akt phosphorylation (pAkt) was greater for exercised vs. sedentary rats in the epitrochlearis (Ser473 and Thr308 with 100 and 200 μU/ml, respectively) and soleus (Ser473 with 200 μU/ml). AS160 phosphorylation (pAS160) was greater for exercised vs. sedentary rats in the epitrochlearis (Thr642 with 100 μU/ml), but not the soleus. Exercised vs. sedentary rats did not differ for total protein abundance of insulin receptor, Akt, AS160, or GLUT4 in either muscle. These results demonstrate that both predominantly type I and type II muscles from old rats are susceptible to exercise-induced improvement in insulin-mediated GU by mechanisms that are independent of enhanced insulin receptor tyrosine phosphorylation or altered abundance of important signaling proteins or GLUT4. Exercise-induced elevation in pAkt, and possibly pAS160, may contribute to this effect in the epitrochlearis of old rats, but other mechanisms are likely important for the soleus.
PMCID: PMC3636414  PMID: 22286902
Glucose transport; Aging; Insulin signaling; Insulin resistance
15.  Cytokine mRNA expression profiles in rats infected with the intestinal nematode Nippostrongylus brasiliensis. 
Infection and Immunity  1995;63(12):4653-4660.
Although the immune responses to intestinal nematode infection have been well studied and have been shown to be strongly driven by Th2-associated cytokines in mice, such information has been limited with respect to rats. We investigated changes in levels of the mRNAs encoding interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-3, IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, and gamma interferon in the mesenteric lymph nodes of rats infected with Nippostrongylus brasiliensis by reverse transcription-PCR in comparison with immunoglobulin E (IgE)/IgG2a antibody, eosinophil, basophil, and mucosal mast cell responses. In the two rat strains used, Brown Norway and Fischer-344, which show different responses to allergens, serum IgE increased to much higher levels in the former than in the latter 2 weeks after infection. Intestinal mastocytosis was observed much earlier and more intensely in Brown Norway rats than in Fischer-344 rats, but the degrees of peripheral eosinophilia and basophilia did not differ between the two strains. In both strains, IL-3, IL-4, and IL-5 mRNA expression increased and peaked around 7 to 14 days after infection, while expression of IL-2, IL-10, and gamma interferon mRNAs did not change notably throughout the experimental period. The highest IL-4 mRNA expression was observed slightly earlier in Brown Norway than in Fischer-344 rats, but levels of IL-3 and IL-5 mRNAs peaked synchronously in both strains. The amounts of mRNAs encoding these three cytokines were always higher in Brown Norway than in Fischer-344 rats. It is suggested that in rats, Th2 or Th2-like cells are also induced after nematode infection, and IgE elevation is mainly related to increased IL-4 gene expression.
PMCID: PMC173668  PMID: 7591119
16.  Renin-Angiotensin System Blockers Protect Pancreatic Islets against Diet-Induced Obesity and Insulin Resistance in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67192.
The associations between obesity, hypertension and diabetes are well established, and the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) may provide a link among them. The effect of RAS inhibition on type 2 diabetes is still unclear; however, RAS seems to play an important role in the regulation of the pancreas and glucose intolerance of mice fed high-fat (HF) diet.
C57BL/6 mice fed a HF diet (8 weeks) were treated with aliskiren (50 mg/kg/day), enalapril (30 mg/kg/day) or losartan (10 mg/kg/day) for 6 weeks, and the protective effects were extensively compared among groups by morphometry, stereological tools, immunostaining, Western blotting and hormonal analysis.
All RAS inhibitors significantly attenuated the increased blood pressure in mice fed a HF diet. Treatment with enalapril, but not aliskiren or losartan, significantly attenuated body mass (BM) gain, glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, improved the alpha and beta cell mass and prevented the reduction of plasma adiponectin. Furthermore, enalapril treatment improved the protein expression of the pancreatic islet Pdx1, GLUT2, ACE2 and Mas receptors. Losartan treatment showed the greatest AT2R expression.
Our findings indicate that ACE inhibition with enalapril attenuated several of the deleterious effects of the HF diet. In summary, enalapril appears to be responsible for the normalization of islet morphology and function, of alpha and beta cell mass and of Pdx1 and GLUT2 expression. These protective effects of enalapril were attributed, primarily, to the reduction in body mass gain and food intake and the enhancement of the ACE2/Ang (1-7) /Mas receptor axis and adiponectin levels.
PMCID: PMC3718820  PMID: 23894285
17.  Metabolomic profiling reveals severe skeletal muscle group-specific perturbations of metabolism in aged FBN rats 
Biogerontology  2014;15(3):217-232.
Mammalian skeletal muscles exhibit age-related adaptive and pathological remodeling. Several muscles in particular undergo progressive atrophy and degeneration beyond median lifespan. To better understand myocellular responses to aging, we used semi-quantitative global metabolomic profiling to characterize trends in metabolic changes between 15-month-old adult and 32-month-old aged Fischer 344 × Brown Norway (FBN) male rats. The FBN rat gastrocnemius muscle exhibits age-dependent atrophy, whereas the soleus muscle, up until 32 months, exhibits markedly fewer signs of atrophy. Both gastrocnemius and soleus muscles were analyzed, as well as plasma and urine. Compared to adult gastrocnemius, aged gastrocnemius showed evidence of reduced glycolytic metabolism, including accumulation of glycolytic, glycogenolytic, and pentose phosphate pathway intermediates. Pyruvate was elevated with age, yet levels of citrate and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide were reduced, consistent with mitochondrial abnormalities. Indicative of muscle atrophy, 3-methylhistidine and free amino acids were elevated in aged gastrocnemius. The monounsaturated fatty acids oleate, cis-vaccenate, and palmitoleate also increased in aged gastrocnemius, suggesting altered lipid metabolism. Compared to gastrocnemius, aged soleus exhibited far fewer changes in carbohydrate metabolism, but did show reductions in several glycolytic intermediates, fumarate, malate, and flavin adenine dinucleotide. Plasma biochemicals showing the largest age-related increases included glycocholate, heme, 1,5-anhydroglucitol, 1-palmitoleoyl-glycerophosphocholine, palmitoleate, and creatine. These changes suggest reduced insulin sensitivity in aged FBN rats. Altogether, these data highlight skeletal muscle group-specific perturbations of glucose and lipid metabolism consistent with mitochondrial dysfunction in aged FBN rats.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10522-014-9492-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4019835  PMID: 24652515
Muscle; Aging; Metabolomics; Sarcopenia; Biomarkers; NAD
18.  Changes in IL-15 expression and death-receptor apoptotic signaling in rat gastrocnemius muscle with aging and life-long calorie restriction 
TNF-α-mediated apoptosis is enhanced in aged rodent muscles, suggesting that this pathway may be involved in sarcopenia. Interleukin-15 (IL-15), a muscle-derived anabolic cytokine, mitigates muscle wasting and apoptosis in cachectic rats. This effect is thought to occur through inhibition of TNF-α-triggered apoptosis. We investigated IL-15 signaling and the TNF-α-mediated pathway of apoptosis in the gastrocnemius muscle of Fischer344×Brown Norway rats across the ages of 8, 18, 29 and 37 months, in relation to life-long calorie restriction (CR, 40% calorie intake reduction). Aging caused loss of muscle mass and increased apoptotic DNA fragmentation, which were mitigated by CR. Protein levels of IL-15 and mRNA abundance of IL-15 receptor α-chain decreased in senescent ad libitum (AL) fed rats, but were maintained in CR rodents. Elevations of TNF-α, TNF-receptor 1, cleaved caspase-8 and -3 were observed at advanced age in AL rats. These changes were prevented or mitigated by CR. Our results indicate that aging is associated with decreased IL-15 signaling in rat gastrocnemius muscle, which may contribute to sarcopenia partly through enhanced TNF-α-mediated apoptosis. Preservation of IL-15 signaling by CR may therefore represent a further mechanism contributing to the anti-aging effect of this dietary intervention in skeletal muscle.
PMCID: PMC2768529  PMID: 19396981
sarcopenia; interleukin-15; tumor necrosis factor-α; calorie restriction; apoptosis
19.  Effect of aging on ultrasonic vocalizations and laryngeal sensorimotor neurons in rats 
While decline in vocal quality is prevalent in an aging population, the underlying neurobiological mechanisms contributing to age-related dysphonia are unknown and difficult to study in humans. Development of an animal model appears critical for investigating this issue. Using an established aging rat model, we evaluated if 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations in 10, 32-month-old (old) Fischer 344/Brown Norway rats differed from those in 10, 9-month-old (young adult) rats. The retrograde tracer, Cholera Toxin β, was injected to the thyroarytenoid muscle to determine if motoneuron loss in the nucleus ambiguus was associated with age. Results indicated that older rats had vocalizations with diminished acoustic complexity as demonstrated by reduced bandwidth, intensity, and peak frequency, and these changes were dependent on the type of 50-kHz vocalization. Simple calls of old rats had reduced bandwidth, peak frequency, and intensity while frequency-modulated calls of old rats had reduced bandwidth and intensity. Surprisingly, one call type, step calls, had increased duration in the aged rats. These findings reflect phonatory changes observed in older humans. We also found significant motoneuron loss in the nucleus ambiguus of aged rats, which suggests that motoneuron loss may be a contributing factor to decreased complexity and quality of ultrasonic vocalizations. These findings suggest that a rat ultrasonic phonation model may be useful for studying age-related changes in vocalization observed in humans.
PMCID: PMC3593073  PMID: 22562586
Aging; Voice; Nucleus ambiguus; Neurodegeneration; Ultrasonic vocalization; Rat
20.  Age-related activation of mitochondrial caspase-independent apoptotic signaling in rat gastrocnemius muscle 
Mitochondria-mediated apoptosis represents a central process driving age-related muscle loss. However, the temporal relation between mitochondrial apoptotic signaling and sarcopenia as well as the regulation of release of pro-apoptotic factors from the mitochondria has not been elucidated. In this study, we investigated mitochondrial apoptotic signaling in skeletal muscle of rats across a wide age range. We also investigated whether mitochondrial-driven apoptosis was accompanied by changes in the expression of Bcl-2 proteins and components of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP). Analyses were performed on gastrocnemius muscle of 8-, 18-, 29- and 37- month-old male Fischer344×Brown Norway rats (9 per group). Muscle weight declined progressively with advancing age, concomitant with increased apoptotic DNA fragmentation. Cytosolic and nuclear levels of apoptosis inducing factor (AIF) and endonuclease G (EndoG) increased in old and senescent animals. In contrast, cytosolic levels of cytochrome c were unchanged with age. Mitochondrial Bcl-2, Bax and Bid increased dramatically in 37-month-old rats, with no changes in the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio in any of the age groups. Finally, expression of cyclophilin D was enhanced at very old age. Our findings indicate that the mitochondrial caspase-independent apoptotic pathway may play a more prominent role in skeletal muscle loss than caspase-mediated apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC2585824  PMID: 18579179
sarcopenia; apoptosis; permeability transition pore; AIF; endonuclease G
21.  Increased RNA oxidative damage and iron content in skeletal muscle with aging and disuse atrophy 
Experimental gerontology  2008;43(6):563-570.
Muscle atrophy with aging or disuse is associated with deregulated iron homeostasis and increased oxidative stress likely inflicting damage to nucleic acids. Therefore, we investigated RNA and DNA oxidation, and iron homeostasis in gastrocnemius muscles. Disuse atrophy was induced in 6- and 32-month old male Fischer 344/Brown Norway rats by 14 days of hind limb suspension (HS). We show that RNA, but not DNA, oxidative damage increased 85% with age and 36% with HS in aged muscle. Additionally, non-heme iron levels increased 233% with aging and 83% with HS at old age, while staining for free iron was strongest in the smallest fibers. Simultaneously, the mRNA abundance of transferrin receptor-1 decreased by 80% with age and 48% with HS for young animals, while that of the hepcidin regulator hemojuvelin decreased 37% with age, but increased about 44% with disuse, indicating a dysregulation of iron homeostasis favoring increased intracellular free iron in atrophied muscles. RNA and DNA concentrations increased with age and were negatively correlated with muscle mass, whereas protein concentrations decreased with aging, indicating a preferential loss of protein compared to nucleic acids. Furthermore, xanthine oxidase activity increased with age, but not with HS, while mRNA abundance of the Y box-binding protein-1, which has been suggested to bind oxidized RNA, did not change with age or HS. These results suggest that RNA oxidation, possibly mediated by increased non-heme iron, might contribute to muscle atrophy due to disuse particularly in aged muscle.
PMCID: PMC2601529  PMID: 18395385
gastrocnemius; hemojuvelin (HJV); RNA oxidation; sarcopenia; transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1); Y box binding protein 1 (YB-1); xanthine oxidase (XOD)
22.  Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibition ameliorates glomerular filtration of macromolecules and water and lessens glomerular injury in the rat. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1990;85(2):541-549.
The effect of enalapril on glomerular hemodynamics and permselectivity and on subsequent sclerosis was studied in male MWF/Ztm rats which spontaneously develop proteinuria and glomerular structural damage. Untreated group 1 and enalapril-treated group 2 (50 mg/liter, in the drinking water) underwent micropuncture studies after 2 mo of observation. After the same period of treatment, group 3 (untreated) and group 4 (enalapril treated) were used for determination of whole-kidney function and neutral dextran clearances. Group 5 (untreated) and group 6 (enalapril treated) were followed for an additional 4 mo and used for kidney function and morphological studies. Enalapril significantly lowered systolic blood pressure, which was elevated in untreated groups, and significantly reduced proteinuria (295 +/- 64 vs. 128 +/- 24 mg/24 h by the end of the study). Despite the reduced renal perfusion pressure, whole-kidney glomerular filtration rate was higher in enalapril-treated than in untreated rats (0.96 +/- 0.14 vs. 0.81 +/- 0.10 ml/min, P less than 0.05) as was the single nephron glomerular filtration rate (54 +/- 7.1 vs. 46 +/- 4.0 nl/min, P less than 0.05). The single glomerular afferent plasma flow was comparable in both groups. Enalapril reduced mean glomerular capillary hydraulic pressure from the normal value of 51 +/- 1 mmHg (untreated rats) to a value lower than normal (44 +/- 1 mmHg, P less than 0.001). These hemodynamic changes were associated with a significant reduction in afferent (approximately 23%) and efferent (approximately 26%) arteriolar resistance. The mean ultrafiltration coefficient was two times higher in the enalapril (0.126 +/- 0.027 nl/s per mmHg) than in the untreated group (0.061 +/- 0.023 nl/s per mmHg). The clearance of dextran macromolecules relative to that of inulin was significantly reduced for all molecular sizes studied (26-64 A) in enalapril-treated vs. untreated rats. Theoretical analysis of dextran fractional clearances using a heteroporous model of neutral solute transport across the glomerular capillary wall indicated that enalapril affected glomerular membrane size selective properties, reducing uniformly the radius of hypothetical membrane pores. Enalapril treatment also significantly limited (P less than 0.01) the development of glomerular structural lesions (mean percentage of sclerotic glomeruli was 4.2 +/- 3.5% [treated] vs. 28 +/- 15% [untreated] rats at the end of the study) as well as tubulo-interstitial damage. These results suggest that the protective effect of enalapril on the development of proteinuria and glomerular sclerosis in this model is due to its property of ameliorating size selectivity and hydraulic permeability of the glomerular capillaries.
PMCID: PMC296456  PMID: 1688888
23.  Impaired Bladder Function in Aging Male Rats 
The Journal of urology  2010;184(1):378-385.
The prevalence of bladder dysfunctions increases with age. In humans it is difficult to separate changes related to exogenous factors from those directly related to the aging process. Some confounding variables can be avoided by studying age related changes in an animal model. We evaluated the impact of age on bladder function in vivo and in vitro, and characterized the corresponding morphological changes.
Materials and Methods
Young (4 to 6 months old) and old (older than 28 to 30 months) male Fischer/Brown Norway rats were used in the study. Cystometric studies were done in conscious, freely moving rats. After cystometry tissue strips from the bladder body were used in in vitro studies of muscarinic receptor activation and electrical field stimulation, and histological examination.
Old rats had higher bladder weight than young rats but the bladder-to-body weight ratio did not change. We noted significant age related differences in 8 of 10 cystometric parameters. Old rats had increased bladder capacity, post-void residual volume, micturition volume and frequency, baseline and intermicturition pressure, and spontaneous activity but decreased micturition pressure. Bladder strip responses to carbachol and electrical field stimulation were significantly lower in old than in young rats. Histological examination revealed urothelial thinning, lower muscle mass and higher collagen content in the bladders of old vs young rats.
Physiological aging alters bladder function in male rats even when external factors remain constant. Thus, in old rats bladder capacity, post-void residual urine and spontaneous activity are higher, and responses to muscarinic receptor stimulation and electrical field stimulation are lower than in young rats. Such changes correspond to findings in aging human bladders, supporting the view that the Fischer/Brown Norway rat is a useful model in which to study age related bladder function changes.
PMCID: PMC2963021  PMID: 20488483
urinary bladder; physiology; aging; urodynamics; male
24.  Targeted Training of Ultrasonic Vocalizations in Aged and Parkinsonian Rats 
Voice deficits are a common complication of both Parkinson disease (PD) and aging; they can significantly diminish quality of life by impacting communication abilities. 1, 2 Targeted training (speech/voice therapy) can improve specific voice deficits,3, 4 although the underlying mechanisms of behavioral interventions are not well understood. Systematic investigation of voice deficits and therapy should consider many factors that are difficult to control in humans, such as age, home environment, age post-onset of disease, severity of disease, and medications. The method presented here uses an animal model of vocalization that allows for systematic study of how underlying sensorimotor mechanisms change with targeted voice training. The ultrasonic recording and analysis procedures outlined in this protocol are applicable to any investigation of rodent ultrasonic vocalizations.
The ultrasonic vocalizations of rodents are emerging as a valuable model to investigate the neural substrates of behavior.5-8 Both rodent and human vocalizations carry semiotic value and are produced by modifying an egressive airflow with a laryngeal constriction.9, 10 Thus, rodent vocalizations may be a useful model to study voice deficits in a sensorimotor context. Further, rat models allow us to study the neurobiological underpinnings of recovery from deficits with targeted training.
To model PD we use Long-Evans rats (Charles River Laboratories International, Inc.) and induce parkinsonism by a unilateral infusion of 7 μg of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) into the medial forebrain bundle which causes moderate to severe degeneration of presynaptic striatal neurons (for details see Ciucci, 2010).11, 12 For our aging model we use the Fischer 344/Brown Norway F1 (National Institute on Aging).
Our primary method for eliciting vocalizations is to expose sexually-experienced male rats to sexually receptive female rats. When the male becomes interested in the female, the female is removed and the male continues to vocalize. By rewarding complex vocalizations with food or water, both the number of complex vocalizations and the rate of vocalizations can be increased (Figure 1).
An ultrasonic microphone mounted above the male's home cage records the vocalizations. Recording begins after the female rat is removed to isolate the male calls. Vocalizations can be viewed in real time for training or recorded and analyzed offline. By recording and acoustically analyzing vocalizations before and after vocal training, the effects of disease and restoration of normal function with training can be assessed. This model also allows us to relate the observed behavioral (vocal) improvements to changes in the brain and neuromuscular system.
PMCID: PMC3211124  PMID: 21847085
25.  Tissue-Specific Responses of IGF-1/Insulin and mTOR Signaling in Calorie Restricted Rats 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38835.
Moderate calorie restriction (CR) (∼60% of ad libitum, AL, intake) has been associated with numerous favorable physiological outcomes in many species, and the insulin/IGF-1 and mTOR signaling pathways have each been proposed as potential mediators for many of CR's bioeffects. However, few studies have assessed the widely held idea that CR induces the down-regulation of the insulin/IGF-1 and/or mTOR pathways in multiple tissues. Accordingly, we analyzed the phosphorylation status of 11 key signaling proteins from the insulin/IGF-1 (IRTyr1162/1163, IGF-1RTyr1135/1136, IRS-1Ser312, PTENSer380, AktSer473, GSK3αSer21, GSK3βSer9) and mTOR (TSC2Ser939, mTORSer2448, P70S6KThr412, RPS6Ser235/236) pathways in 11 diverse tissues [liver, kidney, lung, aorta, two brain regions (cortex and cerebellum), and two slow-twitch and three fast-twitch skeletal muscles] from 9-month-old male AL and CR Fischer 344 x Brown Norway rats. The rats were studied under two conditions: with endogenous insulin levels (i.e., AL>CR) and with insulin infused during a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp so that plasma insulin concentrations were matched between the two diet groups. The most striking and consistent effect of CR was greater pAkt in 3 of the 5 skeletal muscles of CR vs. AL rats. There were no significant CR effects on the mTOR signaling pathway and no evidence that CR caused a general attenuation of mTOR signaling across the tissues studied. Rather than supporting the premise of a global downregulation of insulin/IGF-1 and/or mTOR signaling in many tissues, the current results revealed clear tissue-specific CR effects for the insulin signaling pathway without CR effects on the mTOR signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3368930  PMID: 22701721

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