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Neurobiol Aging. 2009 May;30(5):782-92. Epub 2007 Oct 4.

Protein kinase C activity is associated with prefrontal cortical decline in aging.

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Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Neurobiology, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.


Aging is associated with deficiencies in the prefrontal cortex, including working memory impairment and compromised integrity of neuronal dendrites. Although protein kinase C (PKC) is implicated in structural plasticity, and overactivation of PKC results in working memory impairments in young animals, the role of PKC in prefrontal cortical impairments in the aged has not been examined. This study provides the first evidence that PKC activity is associated with prefrontal cortical dysfunction in aging. Pharmacological inhibition of PKC with chelerythrine rescued working memory impairments in aged rats and enhanced working memory in aged rhesus monkeys. Improvement correlated with age, with older monkeys demonstrating a greater degree of improvement following PKC inhibition. Furthermore, PKC activity within the prefrontal cortex was inversely correlated with the length of basal dendrites of prefrontal cortical neurons, as well as with working memory performance in aged rats. Together these findings indicate that PKC is dysregulated in aged animals and that PKC inhibitors may be useful in the treatment of cognitive deficits in the elderly.

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