Even in the absence of dementia, a dichotomy remains between successful and unsuccessful cognitive aging. The long range goal is to provide interventions to delay, prevent, or treat cognitive decline associated with unsuccessful aging in order to improve the health and well- being of older Americans. The overall hypothesis for the proposed work is that memory consolidation deficits are an early marker of cognitive decline. It is hypothesized that memory deficits result from impaired activation of NMDA receptor (NMDAR) signaling cascades that direct the expression of genes for maintaining hippocampal function. The studies will examine signaling cascades in two fields of the hippocampus (CA1 and the dentate gyrus) of rats at different ages in order to distinguish when and where changes associated with memory deficits first emerge.
Specific aim 1 will combine behavioral characterization, in vitro electrophysiology, protein and gene expression analyses to tests the hypothesis that memory consolidation deficits result from a decreased ability to activate signaling cascades that are important for memory. Preliminary data indicates that NMDAR synaptic responses and the activity of ERK is decreased in middle-aged and aged animals with memory consolidation deficits relative to aged-matched, unimpaired rats. Examination of brain tissue supports the idea that deficits are associated with a reduction in experience induced changes in chromatin structure (histone acetylation) and the expression of genes related to synaptic activity.
Specific aim 2 will test the hypothesis that neural inflammation contributes to the decline in the signaling cascade and cognitive decline. It is predicted that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) will reverse the decrease in NMDAR activated signaling cascade activity and improve memory in aging animals. The same techniques and measures will be used to examine control and NSAID treated naimals. Preliminary data indicates that memory impaired animals exhibit markers of neuroinflammation observed as enhanced expression of cytokines and genes related to cellular stress and memory consolidation deficits associated with neuroinflammation can be reversed by NSAID treatment.
Even in the absence of dementia, a dichotomy remains between successful and unsuccessful cognitive aging. The long range goal is to provide interventions to delay, prevent, or treat cognitive decline associated with unsuccessful aging in order to improve the health and well- being of older Americans
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