Communication breakdown: The impact of ageing on synapse structure

Ronald S. Petralia, Mark P. Mattson, Pamela J. Yao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Impaired synaptic plasticity is implicated in the functional decline of the nervous system associated with ageing. Understanding the structure of ageing synapses is essential to understanding the functions of these synapses and their role in the ageing nervous system. In this review, we summarize studies on ageing synapses in vertebrates and invertebrates, focusing on changes in morphology and ultrastructure. We cover different parts of the nervous system, including the brain, the retina, the cochlea, and the neuromuscular junction. The morphological characteristics of aged synapses could shed light on the underlying molecular changes and their functional consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-42
Number of pages12
JournalAgeing Research Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Ageing
  • Dendritic spine
  • Neurotransmitter vesicles
  • Postsynaptic density
  • Presynaptic bouton
  • Synapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Neurology
  • Medicine(all)


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