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Brain Res. 1992 May 15;580(1-2):273-80.

Reduced density of NMDA receptors and increased sensitivity to dizocilpine-induced learning impairment in aged rats.

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Molecular Physiology and Genetics Section, Nathan W. Shock Laboratories, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, MD 21224.


About 20 min prior to training in a shock-motivated 14-unit T-maze, young (3-4 months) and aged (24-25 months) male Fischer-344 rats were given s.c. injections of either saline or dizocilpine (MK-801, 0.02 or 0.04 mg/kg), a non-competitive antagonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. The aged rats showed a dose-dependent impairment in maze performance. Deficiencies were manifested as increases in errors, in runtime from start to goal, and in the number and duration of shocks received. In contrast, young rats exhibited no detrimental effects of dizocilpine on maze performance. Analysis of [3H]glutamate binding in these rats revealed a marked age-related decline in NMDA receptor binding in hippocampus. A significant correlation was observed between errors in the maze and hippocampal [3H]-glutamate binding, but the correlation was positive, i.e., rats that made the most errors had the highest level of NMDA receptor binding. Thus, compared to young rats, aged rats were more sensitive to the behavioral effects of NMDA receptor antagonism and they showed a hippocampal loss of [3H]glutamate in binding, which may be related to the increased sensitivity to dizocilpine. The positive correlation between poor maze performance and NMDA receptor binding suggests that the behaviors assessed involve complex interactions between NMDA receptors and other neuronal systems in the hippocampus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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