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Neuroscience. 2004;125(1):277-88.

Normal aging results in decreased synaptic excitation and increased synaptic inhibition of layer 2/3 pyramidal cells in the monkey prefrontal cortex.

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1
Center for Behavioral Development, Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA. jluebke@bu.edu

Abstract

Executive system function, mediated largely by the prefrontal cortex (PFC), often declines significantly with normal aging in humans and non-human primates. The neural substrates of this decline are unknown, but age-related changes in the structural properties of PFC neurons could lead to altered synaptic signaling and ultimately to PFC dysfunction. The present study addressed this issue using whole-cell patch clamp assessment of excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic currents (PSCs) in layer 2/3 pyramidal cells in in vitro slices of the PFC from behaviorally characterized young (< or =12 years old) and aged (> or =19 years old) rhesus monkeys. Behaviorally, aged monkeys were significantly impaired in performance on memory and executive system function tasks. Physiologically, the frequency of spontaneous glutamate receptor-mediated excitatory PSCs was significantly reduced in cells from aged monkeys, while the frequency of spontaneous GABAA receptor-mediated inhibitory PSCs was significantly increased. In contrast, there was no effect of age on the frequency, amplitude, rise time or decay time of action potential-independent miniature excitatory and inhibitory PSCs. The observed change in excitatory-inhibitory synaptic balance likely leads to significantly altered signaling properties of layer 2/3 pyramidal cells in the PFC with age.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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