Brain markers of oxidative damage increase with advancing age. In response, brain antioxidant levels may also increase with age, although this has not been well investigated. Here we used edited magnetic resonance spectroscopy to quantify endogenous levels of glutathione (GSH, one of the most abundant brain antioxidants) in 37 young (mean: 21.8 (2.5) years; 19 F) and 23 older adults (mean: 72.8 (8.9) years; 19 F). Accounting for age-related atrophy, we identified higher frontal and sensorimotor GSH levels for the older compared to the younger adults. For the older adults only, higher sensorimotor (but not frontal) GSH was correlated with poorer balance, gait, and manual dexterity. This suggests a regionally-specific relationship between higher brain oxidative stress levels and motor performance declines with age. We suggest these findings reflect a compensatory upregulation of GSH in response to increasing brain oxidative stress with normal aging. Together, these results provide insight into age differences in brain antioxidant levels and implications for motor function.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience