Intrinsic neuronal excitability has been reported to change during normal aging. The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), a limbic forebrain structure, is involved in fear, stress and anxiety; behavioral features that exhibit age-dependent properties. To examine the effect of aging on intrinsic neuronal properties in BNST we compared patch clamp recordings from cohorts of female mice at two ages, 3–4 months (Young) and 29–30 months (Aged) focusing on 2 types of BNST neurons. Aged Type I neurons exhibited a hyperpolarized resting membrane potential (RMP) of circa -80 mV compared to circa -70 mV in the Young. A key finding in this study is a hyper-excitability of Type II neurons with age reflected in an increase in firing frequency in response to depolarizing current injections; activation of Type II neurons is believed to dampen anxiety like responses. Such age-related changes in intrinsic neurophysiological function are likely to modulate how the limbic system, acting via BNST, shapes function in the HPA-axis.
- bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST)
- whole cell patch clamp