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Sex Steroid Regulation of Vasopressin Levels Secreted by hNT Neurons*

hNT Neurons used to imitate neurodegeneration


Rob D. Dickermana Thomas Fungweb N.Y. Zachariaha Walter J. McConathya,b
aDepartment of Medicine, bDepartment of Biomedical Sciences,
University of North Texas Health Science Center


This article describes an innovative technique that uses Stratagenes postmitotic human central nervious system cells (hNT Neurons) to imitate the aging human brain, neurodegeneration, and to investigate the role of sex steroids in neurotransmitter transcription and synthesis. Preliminary data show the potential of this model system.

The normal, physiological aging of the human brain has been associated with cellular atrophy and cell death. Sex differences in the aging brain have been documented by magnetic resonance imaging,1 suggesting that age-related changes in neuronal systems may be due in part to changes in the hormonal milieu. The age-related decline of circulating sex steroids is one of the most consistent findings in the aging literature.2,3 It has been demonstrated in the rat that vasopressinergic neurons are responsible for many of the behaviors and neurophysiological functions that are impaired in aging, including social memory, conditioned avoidance behavior and temperature regulation.4 A peptide hormone of interest, vasopressin, or antidiuretic hormone (ADH), is made in specialized neurons found in the hypothalamus and then transported to the pituitary gland. In neurons, both ADH content and ADH mRNA levels show a marked decline in senescence.5,6 Testosterone can reverse senescent decline in the levels of extrahypothalamic ADH mRNA in rats.7 In addition, the density of ADH nerve fibers is higher in male rats than in female rats.8 ADH nerve-fiber density can be
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