Aging is associated with increased susceptibility to neuronal loss and disruption of cerebral function either as a component of senescence, or as a consequence of neurodegenerative disease or stroke. Here we report differential changes in the repair of oxidative DNA damage in various brain regions during aging. We evaluated mitochondrial and nuclear incision activities of oxoguanine DNA glycosylase (OGG1), uracil DNA glycosylase (UDG) and the endonuclease Ill homologue (NTH1) in the caudate nucleus (CN), frontal cortex (FC), hippocampus (Hip), cerebellum (CE) and brain stem (BS) of 6- and 18-month-old male C5781/6 mice. We observed a significant age-dependent decrease in incision activities of all three glycosylases in the mitochondria of all brain regions, whereas variable patterns of changes were seen in nuclei. No age- or region-specific changes were observed in the mitochondrial repair synthesis incorporation of uracil-initiated base-excision repair (BER). We did not observe any age or region dependent differences in levels of BER proteins among the five brain regions. In summary, our data suggest that a decreased efficiency of mitochondrial BER-glycosylases and increased oxidative damage to mitochondrial DNA might contribute to the normal aging process. These data provide a novel characterization of oxidative DNA damage processing in different brain regions implicated in various neurodegenerative disorders, and suggest that this process is regulated in an age-dependent manner. Manipulation of DNA repair mechanisms may provide a strategy to prevent neuronal loss during age-dependent neurodegenerative disorders. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.