Successful cognitive aging in rats: a role for mGluR5 glutamate receptors, homer 1 proteins and downstream signaling pathways.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


PLoS One, Volume 7, Issue 1, p.e28666 (2012)


<p>Normal aging is associated with impairments in cognition, especially learning and memory. However, major individual differences are known to exist. Using the classical Morris Water Maze (MWM) task, we discriminated a population of 24-months old Long Evans aged rats in two groups--memory-impaired (AI) and memory-unimpaired (AU) in comparison with 6-months old adult animals. AI rats presented deficits in learning, reverse memory and retention. At the molecular level, an increase in metabotropic glutamate receptors 5 (mGluR5) was observed in post-synaptic densities (PSD) in the hippocampus of AU rats after training. Scaffolding Homer 1b/c proteins binding to group 1 mGluR facilitate coupling with its signaling effectors while Homer 1a reduces it. Both Homer 1a and 1b/c levels were up-regulated in the hippocampus PSD of AU animals following MWM task. Using immunohistochemistry we further demonstrated that mGluR5 as well as Homer 1b/c stainings were enhanced in the CA1 hippocampus sub-field of AU animals. In fact mGluR5 and Homer 1 isoforms were more abundant and co-localized in the hippocampal dendrites in AU rats. However, the ratio of Homer 1a/Homer 1b/c bound to mGluR5 in the PSD was four times lower for AU animals compared to AI rats. Consequently, AU animals presented higher PKCγ, ERK, p70S6K, mTOR and CREB activation. Finally the expression of immediate early gene Arc/Arg3.1 was shown to be higher in AU rats in accordance with its role in spatial memory consolidation. On the basis of these results, a model of successful cognitive aging with a critical role for mGluR5, Homer 1 proteins and downstream signalling pathways is proposed here.</p>

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