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Behav Brain Res. 2012 Feb 1;227(1):258-64. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.10.048. Epub 2011 Nov 7.

Muscarinic receptor/G-protein coupling is reduced in the dorsomedial striatum of cognitively impaired aged rats.

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  • 1Program in Neuroscience, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.

Abstract

Behavioral flexibility, the ability to modify responses due to changing task demands, is detrimentally affected by aging with a shift towards increased cognitive rigidity. The neurobiological basis of this cognitive deficit is not clear although striatal cholinergic neurotransmission has been implicated. To investigate the possible association between striatal acetylcholine signaling with age-related changes in behavioral flexibility, young, middle-aged, and aged F344 X Brown Norway F1 rats were assessed using an attentional set-shifting task that includes two tests of behavioral flexibility: reversal learning and an extra-dimensional shift. Rats were also assessed in the Morris water maze to compare potential fronto-striatal-dependent deficits with hippocampal-dependent deficits. Behaviorally characterized rats were then assessed for acetylcholine muscarinic signaling within the striatum using oxotremorine-M-stimulated [(35)S]GTPγS binding and [(3)H]AFDX-384 receptor binding autoradiography. The results showed that by old age, cognitive deficits were pronounced across cognitive domains, suggesting deterioration of both hippocampal and fronto-striatal regions. A significant decline in oxotremorine-M-stimulated [(35)S]GTPγS binding was limited to the dorsomedial striatum of aged rats when compared to young and middle-aged rats. There was no effect of age on striatal [(3)H]AFDX-384 receptor binding. These results suggest that a decrease in M2/M4 muscarinic receptor coupling is involved in the age-associated decline in behavioral flexibility.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22085876
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3253526
Free PMC Article
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