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Neurobiol Aging. 2005 Dec;26 Suppl 1:60-4. Epub 2005 Oct 11.

Glucose and age-related changes in memory.

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  • 1Neuroscience Program and Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 603 East Daniel Street, Champaign, IL 61820, USA. pgold@uiuc.edu


Epinephrine, released from the adrenal medulla, enhances memory in young rats and mice and apparently does so, at least in part, by increasing blood glucose levels. Like epinephrine, administration of glucose enhances cognitive functions in humans and rodents, including reversing age-related impairments in learning and memory. Epinephrine responses to training are increased in aged rats but the subsequent increase in blood glucose levels is severely blunted. The absence of increases in blood glucose levels during training might contribute to age-related deficits in learning and memory. Also, extracellular glucose levels in the hippocampus are depleted during spontaneous alternation testing to a far greater extent in aged than in young rats. Importantly, systemic injections of glucose block the depletion in the hippocampus and also enhance performance on the alternation task. Thus, the extensive depletion of extracellular glucose during training in aged rats may be associated with age-related memory impairments, an effect that might be related to - or may exacerbate - the effects on learning and memory of an absence of the increases in blood glucose levels to training as seen in young rats. Together, these findings suggest that age-related changes in both peripheral and central glucose physiology contribute to age-related impairments in memory.

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