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Age-dependent changes in clock neuron structural plasticity and excitability are associated with a decrease in circadian output behavior and sleep

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-168
Number of pages11
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Early online date2 Feb 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 25 Jan 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 2 Feb 2019
DatePublished (current) - May 2019


Aging has significant effects on circadian behavior across a wide variety of species, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Previous work has demonstrated the age-dependent decline in behavioral output in the model organism Drosophila. We demonstrate that this age-dependent decline in circadian output is combined with changes in daily activity of Drosophila. Aging also has a large impact on sleep behavior, significantly increasing sleep duration while reducing latency. We used electrophysiology to record from large ventral lateral neurons of the Drosophila circadian clock, finding a significant decrease in input resistance with age but no significant changes in spontaneous electrical activity or membrane potential. We propose this change contributes to observed behavioral and sleep changes in light-dark conditions. We also demonstrate a reduction in the daily plasticity of the architecture of the small ventral lateral neurons, likely underlying the reduction in circadian rhythmicity during aging. These results provide further insights into the effect of aging on circadian biology, demonstrating age-related changes in electrical activity in conjunction with the decline in behavioral outputs.

Additional information

Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Aging, Circadian rhythms, Drosophila, Electrophysiology, Intrinsic excitability, Sleep, Synaptic plasticity

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