Age-related alterations in the rodent brain cholinergic system and behavior. Academic Article uri icon


  • Pre- and postsynaptic cholinergic markers were studied in various brain regions of mice and rats aged 6 to 30 months in an attempt to determine whether alterations in this transmitter system occur during the normal aging process. Reliable decreases in cholinergic receptor binding and choline acetyltransferase (CAT) activity were found in the cerebral cortex and corpus striatum. These alterations in the cholinergic system were typically more consistent and robust than changes involving glutamic acid decarboxylase, and enzyme marker for GABA neurons. No statistically significant changes in any markers were found in the hippocampus of either species. Significant age-related changes in retention of passive avoidance learning and locomotor activity were also observed in these same animals. These findings demonstrate that changes in the cholinergic system occur naturally in aged mice and rats and that both the loss of cholinergic receptors and decrease in cat activity may contribute to the motor and mental impairments that often accompany old age.

published proceedings

  • Neurobiol Aging

author list (cited authors)

  • Strong, R., Hicks, P., Hsu, L., Bartus, R. T., & Enna, S. J.

citation count

  • 226

complete list of authors

  • Strong, R||Hicks, P||Hsu, L||Bartus, RT||Enna, SJ

publication date

  • January 1980