α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptors (AMPARs) enable most excitatory transmission in the brain and are crucial for mediating basal synaptic strength and plasticity. Because of the importance of their function, AMPAR dynamics, activity and subunit composition undergo a tight regulation which begins as early as prenatal development and continues through adulthood. Accumulating evidence suggests that the precise regulatory mechanisms involved in orchestrating AMPAR trafficking are challenged in the aging brain. In turn dysregulation of AMPARs can be linked to most neurological and neurodegenerative disorders. Understanding the mechanisms that govern AMPAR signaling during natural and pathological cognitive decline will guide the efforts to develop most effective ways to tackle neurodegenerative diseases which are one of the primary burdens afflicting an increasingly aging population. In this review, I provide a brief overview of the molecular mechanisms involved in AMPAR trafficking highlighting what is currently known about how these processes change with age and disease. As a particularly well-studied example of AMPAR dysfunction in pathological aging I focus in Alzheimer's disease (AD) with special emphasis in how the production of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and amyloid-β plaques may contribute to disruption in AMPAR function.
Keywords: AMPAR receptors; Alzheimer’s disease; aging; neurodegenerative diseases; synaptic transmission.