Effects of aging and caloric restriction on dentate gyrus synapses and glutamate receptor subunits

Isabel G. Newton, M. Elizabeth Forbes, M. Constance Linville, Hui Pang, Elizabeth W. Tucker, David R. Riddle, Judy K. Brunso-Bechtold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Caloric restriction (CR) attenuates aging-related degenerative processes throughout the body. It is less clear, however, whether CR has a similar effect in the brain, particularly in the hippocampus, an area important for learning and memory processes that often are compromised in aging. In order to evaluate the effect of CR on synapses across lifespan, we quantified synapses stereologically in the middle molecular layer of the dentate gyrus (DG) of young, middle aged and old Fischer 344 × Brown Norway rats fed ad libitum (AL) or a CR diet from 4 months of age. The results indicate that synapses are maintained across lifespan in both AL and CR rats. In light of this stability, we addressed whether aging and CR influence neurotransmitter receptor levels by measuring subunits of NMDA (NR1, NR2A and NR2B) and AMPA (GluR1, GluR2) receptors in the DG of a second cohort of AL and CR rats across lifespan. The results reveal that the NR1 and GluR1 subunits decline with age in AL, but not CR rats. The absence of an aging-related decline in these subunits in CR rats, however, does not arise from increased levels in old CR rats. Instead, it is due to subunit decreases in young CR rats to levels that are sustained in CR rats throughout lifespan, but that are reached in AL rats only in old age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1308-1318
Number of pages11
JournalNeurobiology of aging
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • AMPA
  • Dietary restriction
  • Fischer 344 × Brown Norway rat
  • GluR1
  • GluR2
  • Hippocampus
  • Lifespan
  • NMDA
  • NR1
  • NR2A
  • NR2B
  • Stereology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Aging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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