Age- and sex-dependent alterations in primary somatosensory cortex neuronal calcium network dynamics during locomotion

Sami L. Case, Ruei Lung Lin, Olivier Thibault

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the past 30 years, the calcium (Ca2+) hypothesis of brain aging has provided clear evidence that hippocampal neuronal Ca2+ dysregulation is a key biomarker of aging. Age-dependent Ca2+-mediated changes in intrinsic excitability, synaptic plasticity, and activity have helped identify some of the mechanisms engaged in memory and cognitive decline based on work done mostly at the single-cell level and in the slice preparation. Recently, our lab identified age- and Ca2+-related neuronal network dysregulation in the cortex of the anesthetized animal. Still, investigations in the awake animal are needed to test the generalizability of the Ca2+ hypothesis of brain aging. Here, we used in vigilo two-photon imaging in ambulating mice, to image GCaMP8f in the primary somatosensory cortex (S1), during ambulation and at rest. We investigated aging- and sex-related changes in neuronal networks in the C56BL/6J mouse. Following imaging, gait behavior was characterized to test for changes in locomotor stability. During ambulation, in both young adult and aged mice, an increase in network connectivity and synchronicity was noted. An age-dependent increase in synchronicity was seen in ambulating aged males only. Additionally, females displayed increases in the number of active neurons, Ca2+ transients, and neuronal activity compared to males, particularly during ambulation. These results suggest S1 Ca2+ dynamics and network synchronicity are likely contributors of locomotor stability. We believe this work raises awareness of age- and sex-dependent alterations in S1 neuronal networks, perhaps underlying the increase in falls with age.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13898
JournalAging Cell
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01AG033649‐S1 and P01AG078116 to OT), University of Kentucky (Chair's Pilot Research Award to S.L.C. and O.T.) and Neurosciences Education and Research Foundation (Award to O.T.). We would like to thank Dr. Nada Porter and the Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences for financial assistance supporting this project. Additionally, we thank Dr. Hilaree Frazier, Sophiya Sims, Jacquelyn Rhinehart, and Nick Trosper for their assistance during grip strength and gait behavior testing. Lastly, we thank Julien Thibault for their editorial feedback.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Aging Cell published by Anatomical Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Ca
  • behavior
  • locomotor stability
  • mice
  • neuronal network
  • neuroscience
  • somatosensation
  • two-photon imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Cell Biology


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