Age-related changes in sudomotor neuroeffector function have been evaluated in mice aged 2 (young), 6, 12 (adult) and 18 (old) months. We evaluated sudomotor function by determining the number of sweat glands reactive to pilocarpine and the sweat output per gland on the plantar surface of the hindpaws with the impression mould technique. Protein gene product 9.5 (PGP) and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) were immunohistochemically localised in footpads. A marked decrease (44%) in sweat output per gland was observed in old mice as well as a slight (17%), not significant decline in the number of secreting sweat glands. The sudomotor innervation, expressed as the area of sweat gland occupied by VIP and PGP immunoreactive nerve profiles, showed an initial increase from 2 to 6 months and a significant decline (35%) in 18- vs. 6-month-old mice. These results indicate that, in contrast to the number of secreting sweat glands, sweat output per gland does not reach the maximum in adult mouse until 6 months old and that sweating decreases in aged mice mainly due to a decline of sweat output per gland and to a lesser extent to a decrease in number of secreting glands. A reduction of sweat glands size in aged mice was also found, suggesting that the diminished sweat gland responsiveness with ageing may be attributed to sweat gland atrophy as well as to loss of innervation. Copyright © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V.
- Sweat glands