The current study dissected the fascia dentata (FD) and hilar region from the CA and subicular cell fields of the rat and conducted in vitro determinations of the number of binding sites for N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole (AMPA) glutamate receptors across the lifespan. We determined the density of binding of [3H]-glutamate or [3H]-AMPA to NMDA or AMPA receptor sites, respectively. The changes reported might be due to either a change in receptor number or an alteration in the binding characteristics of the receptor site with aging. We found an age-related decline in the number of NMDA receptors in the CA1, CA3 and subicular cell regions of the hippocampus, but not in the FD/hilar region, and an age-related decline in the number of AMPA receptors in the FD/hilar region, but not in the CA fields. The decline in the number of NMDA or AMPA receptors that occurs with aging was not a continuous or homogeneous process. These changes in receptor number might underlie selected age-associated changes in sensitivity to drugs that influence hippocampal function as well as to changes in NMDA-dependent long-term potentiation. A thorough understanding of the mechanisms underlying changes in glutamate receptor function in discrete brain regions, using combined neurochemical and electrophysiological methods, may ultimately provide insight into the fundamental substrates of age-associated memory disorders related to hippocampal dysfunction. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
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