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Neuroscience. 2009 Mar 3;159(1):183-95. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2008.12.004. Epub 2008 Dec 14.

Cognitive performance and age-related changes in the hippocampal proteome.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, R130, Hershey Center for Applied Research, Penn State College of Medicine, 500 University Drive, Hershey, PA 17033, USA. wfreeman@psu.edu


Declining cognitive performance is associated with increasing age, even in the absence of overt pathological processes. We and others have reported that declining cognitive performance is associated with age-related changes in brain glucose utilization, long-term potentiation and paired-pulse facilitation, protein expression, neurotransmitter levels, and trophic factors. However, it is unclear whether these changes are causes or symptoms of the underlying alterations in dendritic and synaptic morphology that occur with age. In this study, we examined the hippocampal proteome for age- and cognition-associated changes in behaviorally stratified young and old rats, using two-dimensional in-gel electrophoresis and MS/MS. Comparison of old cognitively intact with old cognitively impaired animals revealed additional changes that would not have been detected otherwise. Interestingly, not all age-related changes in protein expression were associated with cognitive decline, and distinct differences in protein expression were found when comparing old cognitively intact with old cognitively impaired rats. A large number of protein changes with age were related to the glycolysis/gluconeogenesis pathway. In total, the proteomic changes suggest that age-related alterations act synergistically with other perturbations to result in cognitive decline. This study also demonstrates the importance of examining behaviorally-defined animals in proteomic studies, as comparison of young to old animals regardless of behavioral performance would have failed to detect many cognitive impairment-specific protein expression changes evident when behavioral stratification data were used.

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