Heterogenous effect of early adulthood stress on cognitive aging and synaptic function in the dentate gyrus

Eun Hye Park, Yong Sang Jo, Eun Joo Kim, Eui Ho Park, Kea Joo Lee, Im Joo Rhyu, Hyun Taek Kim, June Seek Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cognitive aging widely varies among individuals due to different stress experiences throughout the lifespan and vulnerability of neurocognitive mechanisms. To understand the heterogeneity of cognitive aging, we investigated the effect of early adulthood stress (EAS) on three different hippocampus-dependent memory tasks: the novel object recognition test (assessing recognition memory: RM), the paired association test (assessing episodic-like memory: EM), and trace fear conditioning (assessing trace memory: TM). Two-month-old rats were exposed to chronic mild stress for 6 weeks and underwent behavioral testing either 2 weeks or 20 months later. The results show that stress and aging impaired different types of memory tasks to varying degrees. RM is affected by combined effect of stress and aging. EM became less precise in EAS animals. TM, especially the contextual memory, showed impairment in aging although EAS attenuated the aging effect, perhaps due to its engagement in emotional memory systems. To further explore the neural underpinnings of these multi-faceted effects, we measured long-term potentiation (LTP), neural density, and synaptic density in the dentate gyrus (DG). Both stress and aging reduced LTP. Additionally, the synaptic density per neuron showed a further reduction in the stress aged group. In summary, EAS modulates different forms of memory functions perhaps due to their substantial or partial dependence on the functional integrity of the hippocampus. The current results suggest that lasting alterations in hippocampal circuits following EAS could potentially generate remote effects on individual variability in cognitive aging, as demonstrated by performance in multiple types of memory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1344141
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2024 Park, Jo, Kim, Park, Lee, Rhyu, Kim and Choi.


  • cognitive aging
  • dentate gyrus
  • memory
  • stress
  • synaptic density

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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