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1.  Initial evidence linking synaptic superoxide production with poor short-term memory in aged mice 
Brain research  2010;1368:65-70.
Unregulated production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is a marker of cellular and organismal aging linked to cognitive decline in humans and rodents. The sources of elevated ROS contributing to cognitive decline are unknown. Because NADPH oxidase (Nox) inhibition may prevent memory decline with age, we hypothesized that Nox and not mitochondrial sources of synaptic ROS production are linked to individual variance in cognitive performance in aged mice. Young (8 mo) and aged (26 mo) mice were tested in the novel object recognition task (NORT). Mitochondrial and Nox ROS production was assayed in isolated synaptosomes using spin-trapping electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. Aged mice exhibited variance in NORT performance, with some performing similar to young mice while others exhibited poorer short-term memory. EPR studies indicated that Nox rather than mitochondria was the major ROS source at the synapse, and Nox- but not mitochondrial-induced ROS levels correlated with NORT performance in aged mice. Our findings support the hypothesis that variance in Nox-specific synaptic ROS production may predict short-term memory deficits with age.
PMCID: PMC3018762  PMID: 21075081
aging; short-term memory; superoxide; NADPH oxidase; mitochondria; synaptosomes
2.  Age-associated improvements in cross-modal prepulse inhibition in mice 
Behavioral neuroscience  2010;124(1):133-140.
Prepulse inhibition (PPI) is an operational measure of sensorimotor gating that is thought to probe pre-attentional filtering mechanisms. PPI is deficient in several neuropsychiatric disorders, possibly reflecting abnormalities in frontal-cortical-striatal circuitry. Several studies support the predictive validity of animal PPI to model human sensorimotor gating phenomena but only limited studies have addressed the effects of aging. Studies in humans suggest that PPI is improved or unaffected as humans age (>60 years) and does not correlate with cognitive decline in aged populations. Rodent studies to date, however, suggest that PPI declines with age. Here we tested the hypothesis that PPI measures in rodents are sensitive to stimulus modality, with the prediction that intact sensory modalities in aged animals would be predictive of aging-induced increases in PPI. To test our hypothesis, we assessed PPI using acoustic, tactile, and visual prepulses in young (4 month) and old (23 month) C57BL/6N mice. Consistent with data across species, we observed reduced startle reactivity in older mice. Aging effects on PPI interacted significantly with prepulse modality, with deficient acoustic PPI but increased visual and tactile PPI in aged animals. These data are therefore consistent with PPI studies in older humans when controlling for hearing impairments. The results are discussed in terms of 1) cross-species translational validity for mouse PPI testing, 2) the need for startle reactivity differences to be accounted for in PPI analyses, and 3) the utility of cross-modal PPI testing in subjects where hearing loss has been documented.
PMCID: PMC3088993  PMID: 20141288
Prepulse Inhibition; aging; cross-modal; translational validity
3.  Short-term recognition memory impairment is associated with decreased expression of FK506 binding protein 51 in the aged mouse brain 
Age  2010;32(3):309-322.
Evidence suggests that increased glucocorticoid receptor (GR) signaling may contribute to cognitive decline with age. We hypothesized that alterations in GR signaling pathway molecules, FK506 binding protein (FKBP) 51 and FKBP52, were associated with memory impairment in aged mice. We used the single-trial object recognition test to measure short-term memory in 18 aged mice compared to 22 young mice, and employed quantitative immunohistochemistry to assess cellular expression of those three proteins in the frontal cortex, hippocampal CA1, and dentate gyrus. Values of the discrimination ratio (DR, a measure of novelty preference) in aged mice were significantly lower than those in young mice (mean 0.54 vs. 0.67, p = 0.003, t test). Aged mice with DR below 0.54 were considered impaired (n = 9). In the three neuroanatomic regions studied, the immunoreactivity normalized to the area measured (IRn) for GR was significantly increased in aged mice regardless of their task performance compared to young mice (p < 0.005), as was the FKBP52 IRn (p < 0.007, U test). In the frontal cortex and CA1, the FKBP51 IRn was significantly lower in impaired aged mice than in unimpaired aged mice (p < 0.01 and <0.05, respectively) and in young mice (p < 0.05 and <0.01, respectively, Dunn’s post hoc test). In aged mice, the frontal cortex FKBP51 IRn correlated directly with DR (rs = 0.68, p = 0.002, Spearman rank correlation). These observations suggest that recognition memory impairment in aged mice is associated with decreased FKBP51 expression that may promote GR-mediated glucocorticoid signaling to a greater extent than in unimpaired aged mice.
PMCID: PMC2926850  PMID: 20422297
Aging; Brain immunophilins; FKBP51; FKBP52; Glucocorticoid receptor signaling; Object recognition test

Results 1-3 (3)