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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2013 Mar;15(1):11-27.

AMPA receptor trafficking and the mechanisms underlying synaptic plasticity and cognitive aging.

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School of Biochemistry, MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.


in English, French, Spanish

Even in healthy individuals there is an inexorable agerelated decline in cognitive function. This is due, in large part, to reduced synaptic plasticity caused by changes in the molecular composition of the postsynaptic membrane. AMPA receptors (AMPARs) are glutamate-gated cation channels that mediate the overwhelming majority of fast excitatory transmission in the brain. Changes in AMPAR number and/or function are a core feature of synaptic plasticity and age-related cognitive decline, AMPARs are highly dynamic proteins that are subject to highly controlled trafficking, recycling, and/or degradation and replacement. This active regulation of AMPAR synthesis, targeting, synaptic dwell time, and degradation is fundamentally important for memory formation and storage. Further, aberrant AMPAR trafficking and consequent detrimental changes in synapses are strongly implicated in many brain diseases, which represent a vast social and economic burden. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the molecular and cellular AMPA receptor trafficking events that control synaptic responsiveness and plasticity, and highlight what is known currently known about how these processes change with age and disease.


AMPA receptor; AMPA receptor trafficking; LTD; LTP; glutamate receptor; protein trafficking; synaptic plasticity

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