Research Papers: Gerotarget (Focus on Aging):

Modulation of GDF11 expression and synaptic plasticity by age and training

Emanuela De Domenico, Giovanna D’Arcangelo, Isabella Faraoni, Mattia Palmieri, Virginia Tancredi, Grazia Graziani, Paola Grimaldi and Lucio Tentori _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:57991-58002. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.19854

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Emanuela De Domenico1,*, Giovanna D’Arcangelo2,*, Isabella Faraoni2, Mattia Palmieri2, Virginia Tancredi2, Grazia Graziani2, Paola Grimaldi1 and Lucio Tentori2

1 Department of Biomedicine and Prevention, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy

2 Department of Systems Medicine, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy

* These authors have contributed equally to the work and should be considered as equal first authors

Correspondence to:

Lucio Tentori, email:

Paola Grimaldi, email:

Keywords: GDF11, skeletal muscle, hippocampus, exercise, long-term potentiation, Gerotarget

Received: June 16, 2017 Accepted: July 25, 2017 Published: August 03, 2017


The Growth Differentiation Factor 11 (GDF11) has been controversially involved in the aging/rejuvenation process. To clarify whether GDF11 is differently expressed during aging, we have evaluated GDF11 levels in skeletal muscles and hippocampi of young and old mice, sedentary or subjected to a 12-weeks triweekly training protocol. The results of real-time PCR and Western blot analyses indicate that skeletal muscles of sedentary old mice express higher levels of GDF11 compared to young animals (p < 0.05). Conversely, in hippocampi no significant differences of GDF11 expression are detected. Analysis of long-term potentiation, a synaptic plasticity phenomenon, reveals that population spikes in response to a tetanic stimulus are significantly higher in sedentary young mice than in old animals (p < 0.01). Training induces a significant improvement of long-term potentiation in both young and old animals (p < 0.05), an increase (p < 0.05) of skeletal muscle GDF11 levels in young mice and a reduction of GDF11 expression in hippocampi of old mice (p < 0.05). Overall, data suggest that GDF11 can be considered an aging biomarker for skeletal muscles. Moreover, physical exercise has a positive impact on long-term potentiation in both young and old mice, while it has variable effects on GDF11 expression depending on age and on the tissue analyzed.

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