Age-related changes in neuroendocrine rhythmic function in the rhesus macaque

Henryk F. Urbanski, Krystina G. Sorwell

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    31 Scopus citations


    Many environmental conditions show rhythmic changes across the 24-h day; these include changes in light intensity, ambient temperature, food availability, and presence or absence of predators. Consequently, many organisms have developed corresponding adaptations, which ensure that specific physiological and behavioral events occur at an appropriate time of the day. In mammals, the underlying mechanism responsible for synchronizing internal biochemical processes with circadian environmental cues has been well studied and is thought to comprise three major components: (1) photoreception by the retina and transmission of neural signals along the retinohypothalamic tract, (2) integration of photoperiodic information with an internal reference circadian pacemaker located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, and (3) dissemination of circadian information to target organs, via the autonomic nervous system and through humoral pathways. Given the importance that neuroendocrine rhythms play in coordinating normal circadian physiology and behavior, it is plausible that their perturbation during aging contributes to the etiology of age-related pathologies. This mini-review highlights some of the most dramatic rhythmic neuroendocrine changes that occur in primates during aging, focusing primarily on data from the male rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). In addition to the age-associated attenuation of hormone levels and reduction of humoral circadian signaling, there are also significant age-related changes in intracrine processing enzymes and hormone receptors which may further affect the functional efficacy of these hormones. Rhesus macaques, like humans, are large diurnal primates and show many of the same physiological and behavioral circadian changes during aging. Consequently, they represent an ideal translational animal model in which to study the causes and consequences of age-associated internal circadian disruption and in which to evaluate novel therapies.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1111-1121
    Number of pages11
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Oct 2012


    • Adrenal gland
    • Circadian rhythms
    • Intracrinology
    • Neurosteroidogenesis

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Aging
    • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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