Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Study of the nitric oxide system in the rat cerebellum during aging

Santos Blanco, Francisco J Molina, Lourdes Castro, Maria L Del Moral, Raquel Hernandez, Ana Jimenez, Alma Rus, Esther Martinez-Lara, Eva Siles and Maria A Peinado*

Author Affiliations

Department of Experimental Biology, University of Jaen. Campus Las Lagunillas s/n, 23071, Jaén, Spain

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Neuroscience 2010, 11:78  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-11-78

Published: 24 June 2010



The cerebellum is the neural structure with the highest levels of nitric oxide, a neurotransmitter that has been proposed to play a key role in the brain aging, although knowledge concerning its contribution to cerebellar senescence is still unclear, due mainly to absence of integrative studies that jointly evaluate the main factors involved in its cell production and function. Consequently, in the present study, we investigate the expression, location, and activity of nitric oxide synthase isoenzymes; the protein nitration; and the production of nitric oxide in the cerebellum of adult and old rats.


Our results show no variation in the expression of nitric oxide synthase isoforms with aging, although, we have detected some changes in the cellular distribution pattern of the inducible isoform particularly in the cerebellar nuclei. There is also an increase in nitric oxide synthase activity, as well as greater protein-nitration levels, and maintenance of nitrogen oxides (NOx) levels in the senescent cerebellum.


The nitric oxide/nitric oxide syntahses system suffers from a number of changes, mainly in the inducible nitric oxide synthase distribution and in overall nitric oxide synthases activity in the senescent cerebellum, which result in an increase of the protein nitration. These changes might be related to the oxidative damage detected with aging in the cerebellum.