• ageing;
  • hippocampus;
  • immunohistochemistry;
  • messenger RNA;
  • neurogranin;
  • plasticity

Brain ageing is associated with a dysregulation of intracellular calcium (Ca2+) homeostasis which leads to deficits in Ca2+-dependent signalling pathways and altered neuronal functions. Given the crucial role of neurogranin/RC3 (Ng) in the post-synaptic regulation of Ca2+ and calmodulin levels, age-dependent changes in the levels of Ng mRNA and protein expression were analysed in 3, 12, 24 and 31-month-old mouse brains. Ageing produced significant decreases in Ng mRNA expression in the dorsal hippocampal subfields, retrosplenial and primary motor cortices, whereas no reliable changes were seen in any other cortical regions examined. Western blot indicated that Ng protein expression was also down-regulated in the ageing mouse brain. Analysis of Ng immunoreactivity in both hippocampal CA1 and retrosplenial areas indicated that Ng protein in aged mice decreased predominantly in the dendritic segments of pyramidal neurones. These data suggest that age-related changes of post-synaptic Ng in selected brain areas, and particularly in hippocampus, may contribute to altered Ca2+/calmodulin-signalling pathways and to region-specific impairments of synaptic plasticity and cognitive decline.