Molecular changes in brain aging and Alzheimer's disease are mirrored in experimentally silenced cortical neuron networks

Marc Gleichmann, Yongqing Zhang, William H. Wood, Kevin G. Becker, Mohamed R. Mughal, Michael J. Pazin, Henriette van Praag, Tali Kobilo, Alan B. Zonderman, Juan C. Troncoso, William R. Markesbery, Mark P. Mattson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Activity-dependent modulation of neuronal gene expression promotes neuronal survival and plasticity, and neuronal network activity is perturbed in aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Here we show that cerebral cortical neurons respond to chronic suppression of excitability by downregulating the expression of genes and their encoded proteins involved in inhibitory transmission (GABAergic and somatostatin) and Ca2+ signaling; alterations in pathways involved in lipid metabolism and energy management are also features of silenced neuronal networks. A molecular fingerprint strikingly similar to that of diminished network activity occurs in the human brain during aging and in AD, and opposite changes occur in response to activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) receptors in cultured cortical neurons and in mice in response to an enriched environment or electroconvulsive shock. Our findings suggest that reduced inhibitory neurotransmission during aging and in AD may be the result of compensatory responses that, paradoxically, render the neurons vulnerable to Ca2+-mediated degeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205.e1-205.e18
JournalNeurobiology of aging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Activity
  • Aging
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Calcium
  • GABA
  • Homeostatic disinhibition
  • Interneuron
  • Synaptic scaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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