Aging and Gene Expression in the Primate Brain
- Author(s): Fraser, Hunter B.;
- Khaitovich, Philipp;
- Plotkin, Joshua B.;
- Paabo, Svante;
- Eisen, Michael B.
- et al.
It is well established that gene expression levels in many organisms change during the aging process, and the advent of DNA microarrays has allowed genome-wide patterns of transcriptional changes associated with aging to be studied in both model organisms and various human tissues. Understanding the effects of aging on gene expression in the human brain is of particular interest, because of its relation to both normal and pathological neurodegeneration. Here we show that human cerebral cortex, human cerebellum, and chimpanzee cortex each undergo different patterns of age-related gene expression alterations. In humans, many more genes undergo consistent expression changes in the cortex than in the cerebellum; in chimpanzees, many genes change expression with age in cortex, but the pattern of changes in expression bears almost no resemblance to that of human cortex. These results demonstrate the diversity of aging patterns present within the human brain, as well as how rapidly genome-wide patterns of aging can evolve between species; they may also have implications for the oxidative free radical theory of aging, and help to improve our understanding of human neurodegenerative diseases.