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eNeuro. 2018 Jun 28;5(3). pii: ENEURO.0164-18.2018. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0164-18.2018. eCollection 2018 May-Jun.

Age-Related Declines in Prefrontal Cortical Expression of Metabotropic Glutamate Receptors that Support Working Memory.

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Department of Neuroscience, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.


Glutamate signaling is essential for the persistent neural activity in prefrontal cortex (PFC) that enables working memory. Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) are a diverse class of proteins that modulate excitatory neurotransmission via both presynaptic regulation of extracellular glutamate levels and postsynaptic modulation of ion channels on dendritic spines. This receptor class is of significant therapeutic interest for treatment of cognitive disorders associated with glutamate dysregulation. Working memory impairment and cortical hypoexcitability are both associated with advanced aging. Whether aging modifies PFC mGluR expression, and the extent to which any such alterations are regionally or subtype specific, however, is unknown. Moreover, it is unclear whether specific mGluRs in PFC are critical for working memory, and thus, whether altered mGluR expression in aging or disease is sufficient to play a causative role in working memory decline. Experiments in the current study first evaluated the effects of age on medial PFC (mPFC) mGluR expression using biochemical and molecular approaches in rats. Of the eight mGluRs examined, only mGluR5, mGluR3, and mGluR4 were significantly reduced in the aged PFC. The reductions in mGluR3 and mGluR5 (but not mGluR4) were observed in both mRNA and protein and were selectively localized to the prelimbic (PrL), but not infralimbic (IL), subregion of mPFC. Finally, pharmacological blockade of mGluR5 or mGluR2/3 using selective antagonists directed to PrL significantly impaired working memory without influencing non-mnemonic aspects of task performance. Together, these data implicate attenuated expression of PFC mGluR5 and mGluR3 in the impaired working memory associated with advanced ages.


aging; metabotropic glutamate receptor; prefrontal cortex; prelimbic cortex; rat; working memory

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