Aging and infection reduce expression of specific brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNAs in hippocampus

Timothy R. Chapman, Ruth M. Barrientos, Jared T. Ahrendsen, Jennifer M. Hoover, Steven F. Maier, Susan L. Patterson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Aging increases the likelihood of cognitive decline after negative life events such as infection or injury. We have modeled this increased vulnerability in aged (24-month-old), but otherwise unimpaired F344xBN rats. In these animals, but not in younger (3-month-old) counterparts, a single intraperitoneal injection of E. coli leads to specific deficits in long-term memory and long-lasting synaptic plasticity in hippocampal area CA1-processes strongly dependent on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Here we have investigated the effects of age and infection on basal and fear-conditioning-stimulated expression of Bdnf in hippocampus. We performed in situ hybridization with 6 probes recognizing: total (pan-)BDNF mRNA, the 4 predominant 5' exon-specific transcripts (I, II, IV, and VI), and BDNF mRNAs with a long 3' untranslated region (3' UTR). In CA1, aging reduced basal levels and fear-conditioning-induced expression of total BDNF mRNA, exon IV-specific transcripts, and transcripts with long 3' UTRs; effects of infection were similar and sometimes compounded the effects of aging. In CA3, aging reduced all of the transcripts to some degree; infection had no effect. Effects in dentate were minimal. Northern blot analysis confirmed an aging-associated loss of total BDNF mRNA in areas CA1 and CA3, and revealed a parallel, preferential loss of BDNF mRNA transcripts with long 3' UTRs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)832.e1-832.e14
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Aging
  • Cytokines
  • Dendrites
  • Exons
  • Hippocampus
  • IL-1β
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-1
  • Learning
  • Lipopolysaccharide
  • Long 3' UTR
  • LTP
  • Memory
  • Transcripts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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