Selective alteration of long-term potentiation-induced transcriptional response in hippocampus of aged, memory-impaired rats

Anthony Lanahan, Gregory Lyford, Gail S. Stevenson, Paul F. Worley, Carol A. Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Normal human aging is associated with selective changes in cognition that are attributable, in part, to dysfunction of hippocampal pathways. Rodents also exhibit age-dependent hippocampal dysfunction that results in spatial memory deficits and a correlated reduction in the maintenance of long-term potentiation (LTP). Although suprathreshold stimulus protocols result in normal LTP induction in aged rats, the ability to sustain this increase in synaptic efficacy is reduced in the old animals. The maintenance phase of LTP is known to be dependent on rapid, transcriptional events, and recent studies have identified signal transduction mechanisms that link glutamate-induced responses at the synapse with transcriptional responses at the nucleus. To examine the integrity of these signaling pathways in aged hippocampus, we monitored the induction of a panel of immediate early genes (IEGs) that are known to be transcriptionally activated after LTP-inducing stimuli, using a 'reverse Northern' strategy. Here we report that a broad representation of lEGs are similarly induced in awake, behaving young adult and aged, memory-impaired rats. This indicates a general preservation of these presumptive signaling pathways during the aging process. Induced levels of c-fos mRNA, however, are significantly higher in the aged animals. These observations suggest that age-dependent hippocampal dysfunction may be associated with a selective change in the dynamic activity of signaling pathways upstream of c-fos, possibly involving calcium regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2876-2885
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1997


  • age-dependent memory decline
  • aging
  • immediate early gene
  • long-term potentiation (LTP)
  • protein synthesis inhibitor
  • reverse Northern
  • transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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