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Physiol Behav. 2011 Feb 1;102(2):149-57. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.11.005. Epub 2010 Nov 6.

Age-dependent alterations in nerve growth factor (NGF)-related proteins, sortilin, and learning and memory in rats.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia 30912, United States.


The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of aging on the performance of specific memory-related tasks in rats as well as to determine the levels of several nerve growth factor (NGF)-related proteins in relevant brain regions. The results indicated age-related impairments in spatial learning in a water maze task as well as deficits in recognition memory in a Spontaneous Novel Object Recognition task. In the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, aged rats (compared to young controls) had elevated levels of the proneurotrophin, proNGF (+1.8-1.9 fold), p75(NTR) receptors (+1.6-1.8 fold) and sortilin (+1.8-2.1 fold), and decreased levels of mature NGF (-36 to 44%), and phospho-TrkA receptors (-45 to 49%). The results of this study support the argument that NGF signaling is altered in the aging brain, and that such alterations may contribute to an age-related decline in cognitive function. These results may also help to identify specific components of the NGF-signaling pathway that could serve as targets for novel drug discovery and development for age-related disorders of cognition (e.g., Alzheimer's disease).

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