Main Article Content
A possible response to aging is autophagy, a self-digestion process in which portions of cytoplasm are encapsulated by double-membrane-bound structures and delivered to lysosome for degradation. A previous work of our group showed that astrocytes under starving conditions are characterized by a higher upregulation of the marker of autophagy LC3 II than neurons. Aim of the present work was to evaluate LC3 II expression in an aging model consisting in fetal sheep neurons and astrocytes at 10, 20 and 30 days of culture. Such model has been validated by a remarkable activity of β-galactosidase, commonly used to reveal cell aging. LC3 II immunoreactivity in neurons and astrocytes progressively increased with time but differences were observed on the basis of cell density. Indeed, LC3 II immunoreactivity is higher in clusters of neurons and astrocytes and this may be due to the fact that cell-cell contact would represent a second stress in addition to aging itself. Both cell types displayed a reduction in LC3 II signal in nuclei, and a corresponding strengthening in the cytoplasm with time. This may be due to the need of aged cells to remove damaged cytoplasmic components through autophagic processes. Such variation in LC3 II localization could be caused by migration from the nucleus to cytoplasm as well as possible de novo intracytoplasmic production. The present work based on sheep neural cells in vitro may represent a helpful tool in the studies on aging processes in which autophagy plays a remarkable role.