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Neurobiol Aging. 1998 Nov-Dec;19(6):581-7.

Up-regulation of alpha1D Ca2+ channel subunit mRNA expression in the hippocampus of aged F344 rats.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of Kentucky Medical Center, Lexington 40536-0298, USA.


There is growing evidence that alterations in calcium (Ca2+) homeostasis may play a role in processes of brain aging and neurodegeneration. There also is evidence that some of the altered Ca2+ homeostasis in hippocampal neurons may arise from an increased density of L-type voltage sensitive Ca2+ channels (L-VSCC). In the present studies, we tested the possibility that previously observed increases in functional L-VSCC with aging might be related to up-regulated gene/mRNA expression for Ca2+ channel subunits. A significant aging-related increase in mRNA content for the alpha1D subunit of the L-type VSCC was observed in hippocampus of aged F344 rats (25 months old) relative to young (4 months old) and middle-aged animals (13 months old), as assessed by both in situ hybridization analyses (densitometry and grain density) and ribonuclease protection assay (RPA). In RPA analyses, the alpha1C subunit mRNA also showed a significant increase in 25-month-old rats. No age changes were seen in mRNA for the beta1b subunit of VSCC or for GAPDH, a standard control. The clearest increases in alpha1D mRNA expression were observed in subfield CA1, with little or no change seen in dentate gyrus. Although these results alone do not demonstrate that mRNA/gene expression changes contribute directly to changes in functional Ca2+ channels, they clearly fulfill an important prediction of that hypothesis. Therefore, these studies may have important implications for the role of gene expression in aging-dependent alterations in brain Ca2+ homeostasis.

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