Homocysteine, neural atrophy, and the effect of caloric restriction in rhesus monkeys

Willette AA, Gallagher C, Bendlin BB, McLaren DG, Kastman EK, Canu E, Kosmatka KJ, Field AS, Alexander AL, Colman RJ, Voytko ML, Weindruch RH, Coe CL, Johnson SC

Neurobiol Aging. epub August 2010. In Press.


Higher serum homocysteine (Hcy) levels in humans are associated with vascular pathology and greater risk for dementia, as well as lower global and regional volumes in frontal lobe and hippocampus. Calorie restriction (CR) in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) may confer neural protection against age- or Hcy-related vascular pathology. Hcy was collected proximal to a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) acquisition in aged rhesus monkeys and regressed against volumetric and diffusion tensor imaging indexes using voxel-wise analyses. Higher Hcy was associated with lower white matter volume in pons and corpus callosum. Hcy was correlated with lower gray matter volume and density in prefrontal cortices and striatum. CR did not influence Hcy levels. However, control monkeys exhibited a strong negative correlation between Hcy and global gray matter, whereas no relationship was evident for the CR monkeys. Similar group differences were also seen across modalities in the splenium of the corpus callosum, prefrontal cortices, hippocampus, and somatosensory areas. The data suggest that CR may ameliorate the influence of Hcy on several important age-related parameters of parenchymal health.

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