Caloric restricted male rats demonstrate fewer synapses in layer 2 of sensorimotor cortex
Previous studies have demonstrated an age-related decline in the density of presumptive inhibitory synapses in layer 2 of rat sensorimotor cortex [J. Comp. Neurol. 439(1) (2001) 65]. Caloric restriction has been shown to ameliorate age-related deterioration in a variety of systems and to extend life span. The present study tested the hypothesis that caloric restriction would prevent the previously reported age-related synaptic decline. Accordingly, synaptic density in layer 2 of sensorimotor cortex was compared between 29-month-old male rats fed ad libitum and 29-month-old male rats that were caloric restricted (60% of ad libitum calories) from 4 months of age. In serial electron micrographs, the physical disector was used to determine the numerical density of presumptive excitatory and inhibitory synapses (those containing round or nonround vesicles, respectively) as well as that of neurons. Not only was the previously reported age-related decline in numerical density of presumptive inhibitory synapses not ameliorated by caloric restriction, the numerical density was significantly lower in caloric restricted than in ad libitum fed rats for total as well as for presumptive excitatory and inhibitory synapses. Analysis further revealed no difference in the numerical density of neurons in this region. Relating synapse density to neuron density as the ratio of synapses to neuron also demonstrated significantly fewer synapses per neuron in caloric restricted than in ad libitum fed old rats. Finally, synapse length was significantly less in caloric restricted rats. These results suggest that not only does caloric restriction fail to prevent the age-related decline in presumptive inhibitory synapses, it results in fewer presumptive excitatory synapses as well.
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