Sex-specific patterns of age-related cerebral atrophy in a nonhuman primate Microcebus murinus
Steadily aging populations result in a growing need for research regarding age-related brain alterations and neurodegenerative pathologies. By allowing a good translation of results to humans, nonhuman primates, such as the gray mouse lemur Microcebus murinus, have gained attention in this field. Our aim was to examine correlations between atrophy-induced brain alterations and age, with special focus on sex differences in mouse lemurs. For cerebral volumetric measurements, in vivo magnetic resonance imaging was performed on 59 animals (28♀♀/31♂♂) aged between 1.0 to 11.9 years. Volumes of different brain regions, cortical thicknesses, and ventricular expansions were evaluated. Analyses revealed significant brain atrophies with increasing age, particularly around the caudate nucleus, the thalamus, and frontal, parietal, and temporo-occipital regions. Especially old females showed a strong decline in cingulate cortex thickness and had higher values of ventricular expansion, whereas cortical thickness of the splenium and occipital regions decreased mainly in males. Our study, thus, provides first evidence for sex-specific, age-related brain alterations in a nonhuman primate, suggesting that mouse lemurs can help elucidating the mechanism underlying sex disparities in cerebral aging, for which there is mixed evidence in humans.