Research Papers: Gerotarget (Focus on Aging):

Epigenetic alterations in the suprachiasmatic nucleus and hippocampus contribute to age-related cognitive decline

Scott H. Deibel _, Erin L. Zelinski, Robin J. Keeley, Olga Kovalchuk and Robert J. McDonald

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:23181-23203. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.4036

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Scott H. Deibel1, Erin L. Zelinski1, Robin J. Keeley1, Olga Kovalchuk2 and Robert J. McDonald1

1 Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience, Department of Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, Canada

2 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, Canada

Correspondence to:

Scott H. Deibel, email:

Olga Kovalchuk, email:

Keywords: aging, brain, memory, circadian rhythms, Gerotarget

Received: March 10, 2015 Accepted:April 15, 2015 Published: May 08, 2015


Circadian rhythm dysfunction and cognitive decline, specifically memory loss, frequently accompany natural aging. Circadian rhythms and memory are intertwined, as circadian rhythms influence memory formation and recall in young and old rodents. Although, the precise relationship between circadian rhythms and memory is still largely unknown, it is hypothesized that circadian rhythm disruption, which occurs during aging, contributes to age-associated cognitive decline, specifically memory loss. While there are a variety of mechanisms that could mediate this effect, changes in the epigenome that occur during aging has been proposed as a potential candidate. Interestingly, epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation and sirtuin1 (SIRT1) are necessary for both circadian rhythms and memory. During aging, similar alterations of epigenetic mechanisms occur in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and hippocampus, which are necessary for circadian rhythm generation and memory, respectively. Recently, circadian rhythms have been linked to epigenetic function in the hippocampus, as some of these epigenetic mechanisms oscillate in the hippocampus and are disrupted by clock gene deletion. The current paper will review how circadian rhythms and memory change with age, and will suggest how epigenetic changes in these processes might contribute to age-related cognitive decline.

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