Astrocytic plasticity as a possible mediator of the cognitive improvements after environmental enrichment in aged rats

P. Sampedro-Piquero, Paola De Bartolo, Laura Petrosini, C. Zancada-Menendez, J. L. Arias, A. Begega

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Currently, little is known about the effect of environmental enrichment (EE) on astrocytic plasticity, especially during aging. Given the newly discovered role of the astrocytes in regulating the synaptic transmission and thereby, the cognitive functions, we aimed to study the impact of EE on the performance in a spatial memory task and on the number and morphology of GFAP immunopositive cells in the dorsal hippocampus. After two months of EE (3. h/per day), the animals were tested in the Radial-Arm Water Maze (RAWM) for four days, with six daily trials. Next, we analyzed the changes in the GFAP immunopositive cells in CA1, CA3 and Dentate Gyrus (DG). Behavioral results showed that, even in advanced ages, EE improved the performance in a spatial memory task. Also, we found that aged rats submitted to EE had more GFAP immunopositive cells in the DG and more complex astrocytes, revealed by Sholl analysis, in all hippocampal subfields with respect to the other experimental conditions. Interestingly, the learning of a spatial memory task produced more morphological complexity and higher levels of GFAP immunopositive cells with regard to a standard control group, but not at the same level of the enriched groups. Thus, it is possible that the plastic changes found in the hippocampal astrocytes after EE are involved in a brain reserve to cope with age-related cognitive impairments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-25
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
Volume114
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Astrocyte
  • Environmental enrichment
  • GFAP
  • Spatial memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Medicine(all)

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