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Slotkin TA, Seidler FJ, Ali SF. 
“Cellular determinants of reduced adaptability of the aging brain: neurotransmitter utilization and cell signaling responses after MDMA lesions”. 
Brain Res. 2000 Oct;879:163-173.
Senescence is accompanied by the loss of neurons and synapses, and the maintenance of function depends on adaptive change at the levels of synaptic activity and cellular responsiveness. In the current study, we administered the neurotoxin MDMA, to young and aged mice and assessed the effects on indices of neuronal activity and cell signaling mediated through adenylyl cyclase. Young mice given MDMA showed 80% depletion of dopamine in the caudate and 30% depletion in the cerebral cortex; measurements of dopamine turnover indicated a compensatory upregulation of the activity of the remaining neurons in the caudate but downregulation in the cerebral cortex. Serotonin levels were comparatively less affected but serotonin turnover was decreased significantly in both regions. At the level of cell signaling, the young mice showed heterologous upregulation of adenylyl cyclase activity and a consequent enhancement of responses mediated through neurotransmitter receptors. In aged mice, MDMA treatment produced the same degree of lesioning but substantially different changes in neuronal activity and cell signaling. In the cerebral cortex, dopamine turnover was increased, and serotonin turnover decreased, effects opposite in direction to those seen in young mice. In the aged group, MDMA elicited heterologous loss of adenylyl cyclase responses instead of displaying the supersensitivity that had been seen in the young group. The aging brain thus displays maladaptation to the loss of monoaminergic input, effects that may augment the functional impairment associated with neurodegenerative disorders or stroke.
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