Vazquez, J., Hall, S. C., & Greco, M. A. (2009). Protein expression is altered during spontaneous sleep in aged Sprague Dawley rats. Brain research, 1298, 37-45.
Age-related changes in brain function include those affecting learning, memory, and sleep-wakefulness. Sleep-wakefulness is an essential behavior that results from the interaction of multiple brain regions, peptides, and neurotransmitters. The biological function(s) of sleep, however, remains unknown due to a paucity of information available at the cellular level. Aged rats exhibit alterations in the circadian and homeostatic influences associated with sleep–wake regulation. We recently showed that alterations in cortical profiles occur after timed bouts of spontaneous sleep in young rats. Examination of the cellular response to sleep–wake in old rats may thus provide insight(s) into the biological function(s) of sleep. To test this hypothesis, we monitored cortical profiles in the frontal cortex of young and old Sprague–Dawley rats after timed bouts of spontaneous sleep–wake behavior. Proteins were separated by two-dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE), visualized by fluorescent staining, imaged, and analyzed as a function of behavioral state and age. Old rats showed a 6-fold increase in total protein expression, independent of the behavioral state at sacrifice. When analyzed according to age and behavioral state, there was a decrease (∼ 46%) in the number of phospho-spots present during SWS in aged animals. SWS-associated spots present only in old animals were associated with multiple functions including vesicular transport, cell signaling, oxidation state, cytoskeletal support, and energy metabolism. These data suggest that the intracellular response to the signaling associated with spontaneous sleep is affected by age and is consistent with the idea that the ability of sleep to fulfill its function(s) may become diminished with age.