Background. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of normal human aging on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis response to the centrally active cholinesterase inhibitor physostigmine. This drug stimulates the HPA axis at a suprapituitary level by increasing central nervous system (CNS) cholinergic activity. Methods. Plasma ACTH, beta- endorphin (βE) and cortisol responses to a 10-minute infusion of physostigmine (.0125 mg/kg) were compared between groups of 10 normal older subjects (71 ± 2 years [mean ± SEM]) and 9 normal young subjects (27 ± 2 years). Plasma physostigmine concentrations were measured to assess the comparability of the pharmacologic stimulus between groups. Results. Endocrine responses were substantially greater in older subjects than young subjects for ACTH (p < .01), βE (p < .01) and cortisol (p < .01). Plasma physostigmine concentrations did not differ between older and young subjects. Conclusion. This study demonstrated increased HPA axis responsivity to a CNS cholinergic stimulus in normal human aging.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Journals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences|
|State||Published - Jan 1 1995|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geriatrics and Gerontology