Understanding cognitive aging is becoming more important as the elderly population grows. Here, the effects of age and sex on learning and memory performance were compared in female and male young (3-4 months old) middle-aged (10-12 months old) and old (18-20 months old) wild-type C57BL/6J mice. Old males and females performed worse than young or middle-aged mice in novel location, but not novel object recognition tasks. Old mice, of both sexes, also showed impaired spatial water maze performance during training compared with young or middle-aged mice, however only old females failed to show robust spatial bias during probe trials. While there was no age-difference in passive avoidance performance for males, females showed an age-related decline. There was no difference in cognitive performance between young and middle-age mice of either sex on any task. Cognitive performance was associated with alterations in immunoreactivity of microtubule-associated protein 2-positive dendrites and synaptophysin-positive pre-synaptic terminals in hippocampal CA1, CA3, and dentate, entorhinal cortex, and central nucleus of amygdala. Overall, microtubule-associated protein 2 immunoreactivity was increased in old females compared with both young and middle-age females with no significant difference in males. In contrast, synaptophysin immunoreactivity increased from young to middle-age in females, and from middle-age to old in males; females had higher levels of synaptophysin immunoreactivity than males in middle-age only. Elevated levels of microtubule-associated protein 2 and synaptophysin may constitute a compensatory response to age-related functional decline in mice.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||11|
|State||Published - Jan 9 2006|
- Cognitive decline
- Passive avoidance
- Water maze
ASJC Scopus subject areas