Agonist and antagonist binding to rat brain muscarinic receptors: Influence of aging

David Gurwitz, Yaacov Egozi, Yoav I. Henis, Yoel Kloog, Mordechai Sokolovsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of the present study was to determine the binding properties of muscarinic receptors in six brain regions in mature and old rats of both sexes by employing direct binding of [3H]-antagonist as well as of the labeled natural neurotransmitter, [3H]-acetylcholine ([3H]-AcCh). In addition, age-related factors were evaluated in the modulation processes involved in agonist binding. The results indicate that as the rat ages the density of the muscarinic receptors is altered differently in the various brain regions: it is decreased in the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, striatum and olfactory bulb of both male and female rats, but is increased (58%) in the brain stem of senescent males while no significant change is observed for females. The use of the highly sensitive technique measuring direct binding of [3H]-AcCh facilitated the separate detection of age-related changes in the two classes (high- and low-affinity) of muscarinic agonist binding sites. In old female rats the density of high-affinity [3H]-AcCh binding sites was preserved in all tissues studied, indicating that the decreases in muscarinic receptor density observed with [3H]-antagonist represent a loss of low-affinity agonist binding sites. In contrast, [3H]-AcCh binding is decreased in the hypothalamus and increased in the brain stem of old male rats. These data imply sexual dimorphism of the aging process in central cholinergic mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-122
Number of pages8
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1987


  • Aging
  • Binding mechanism
  • Cholinergic
  • GTP effect
  • Receptors
  • Sexual dimorphism
  • [H]-Acetylcholine


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