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Cell Calcium. 2004 Jul;36(1):61-75.

Reduced mitochondrial buffering of voltage-gated calcium influx in aged rat basal forebrain neurons.

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Department of Medical Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine, Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, College Station, TX 77843-1114, USA.


Alterations of neuronal Ca(2+) homeostatic mechanisms could be responsible for many of the cognitive deficits associated with aging in mammals. Mitochondrial participation in Ca(2+) signaling is now recognized as a prominent feature in neuronal physiology. We combined voltage-clamp electrophysiology with Ca(2+)-sensitive ratiometric microfluorimetry and laser scanning confocal microscopy to investigate the participation in Ca(2+) buffering of in situ mitochondria in acutely dissociated basal forebrain neurons from young and aged F344 rats. By pharmacologically blocking mitochondrial Ca(2+) uptake, we determined that mitochondria were not involved in rapid buffering of small Ca(2+) influx through voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels (VGCCs) in the somatic compartment. For larger Ca(2+) influx, aged mitochondria showed a significant buffering deficit. Evidence obtained with the potentiometric indicator, JC-1, suggests a significantly reduced mitochondrial membrane potential in aged neurons. These results support the interpretation that there is a fundamental difference in the way young and aged neurons buffer Ca(2+), and a corresponding difference in the quality of the Ca(2+) signal experienced by young and aged neurons for different intensities of cytoplasmic Ca(2+) influx.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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