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Neurobiol Aging. 2014 May;35(5):1213.e3-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2013.11.014. Epub 2013 Nov 22.

Dopamine and glutamate receptor genes interactively influence episodic memory in old age.

Author information

1
Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany; Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institute and Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden. Electronic address: goran.papenberg@ki.se.
2
Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany; Department of Psychology, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany.
3
Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany; Department of Education and Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
4
Department of Vertebrate Genomics, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin, Germany.
5
Department of Vertebrate Genomics, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin, Germany; Charité Research Group on Geriatrics, Charité-Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany.
6
Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany.
7
Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institute and Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.

Abstract

Both the dopaminergic and glutamatergic systems modulate episodic memory consolidation. Evidence from animal studies suggests that these two neurotransmitters may interact in influencing memory performance. Given that individual differences in episodic memory are heritable, we investigated whether variations of the dopamine D2 receptor gene (rs6277, C957T) and the N-methyl-D-aspartate 3A (NR3A) gene, coding for the N-methyl-D-aspartate 3A subunit of the glutamate N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (rs10989591, Val362Met), interactively modulate episodic memory in large samples of younger (20-31 years; n = 670) and older (59-71 years; n = 832) adults. We found a reliable gene-gene interaction, which was observed in older adults only: older individuals carrying genotypes associated with greater D2 and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor efficacy showed better episodic performance. These results are in line with findings showing magnification of genetic effects on memory in old age, presumably as a consequence of reduced brain resources. Our findings underscore the need for investigating interactive effects of multiple genes to understand individual difference in episodic memory.

KEYWORDS:

Aging; D2 receptors; Dopamine; Episodic memory; Gene-gene interactions; Glutamate; NMDA receptors

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