GABAA Receptors Are Well Preserved in the Hippocampus of Aged Mice

eNeuro. 2019 Aug 14;6(4):ENEURO.0496-18.2019. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0496-18.2019. Print 2019 Jul/Aug.


GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the nervous system. GABAA receptors (GABAARs) are pentameric ionotropic channels. Subunit composition of the receptors is associated with the affinity of GABA binding and its downstream inhibitory actions. Fluctuations in subunit expression levels with increasing age have been demonstrated in animal and human studies. However, our knowledge regarding the age-related hippocampal GABAAR expression changes is limited and based on rat studies. This study is the first analysis of the aging-related changes of the GABAAR subunit expression in the CA1, CA2/3, and dentate gyrus regions of the mouse hippocampus. Using Western blotting and immunohistochemistry we found that the GABAergic system is robust, with no significant age-related differences in GABAAR α1, α2, α3, α5, β3, and γ2 subunit expression level differences found between the young (6 months) and old (21 months) age groups in any of the hippocampal regions examined. However, we detected a localized decrease of α2 subunit expression around the soma, proximal dendrites, and in the axon initial segment of pyramidal cells in the CA1 and CA3 regions that is accompanied by a pronounced upregulation of the α2 subunit immunoreactivity in the neuropil of aged mice. In summary, GABAARs are well preserved in the mouse hippocampus during normal aging although GABAARs in the hippocampus are severely affected in age-related neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease.

Keywords: GABAA receptor; ageing; hippocampus; mouse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Axon Initial Segment / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism*
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism*
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism*


  • Protein Subunits
  • Receptors, GABA-A