The Distribution of Cathepsin D Activity in Adult and Aging Human Brain Regions

M. Banay‐Schwartz, T. DeGuzman, A. Kenessey, M. Palkovits, A. Lajtha

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Abstract: We measured the activity of cathepsin D, the major cerebral protease, in 50 separate areas of the central nervous system of adult and aged humans, using hemoglobin as the substrate. The activity showed significant regional heterogeneity, with average differences of 50–100% between the lower and higher level areas, and a more than threefold difference between the lowest and highest levels. The forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain each had areas of high and low activity; cerebellum and cord areas were among those with low activity. Cathepsin levels tended to increase with age in about half of the areas analyzed, and the increases were significant in 14. Statistically significant decreases with aging were observed in two areas. The increases varied between 30 and 60%, and the decreases were 20%. Enzyme activity in thalamus, hypothalamus, pons, medulla, and cerebellum increased with age. In the ventrolateral medulla, which contains the major portion of the cerebral noradrenergic cells, the cathepsin D levels increased with age; in the dorsal raphe area, which contains the major portion of the cerebral serotonergic cells, the enzyme levels decreased. The change with age in human brain seems to be less than what we observed in rat brain, where activity more than doubled in most areas. The changes in enzyme levels need to be tested at more ages to establish a pattern of changes in activity throughout life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2207-2211
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1992



  • Aging
  • Cathepsin D
  • Central nervous system
  • Human

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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