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Glutamate receptor ionotropic, NMDA 2B precursor (GluN2B) (Glutamate [NMDA] receptor subunit epsilon-2) (N-methyl D-aspartate receptor subtype 2B) (NMDAR2B) (NR2B) (N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunit 3) (NR3) (hNR3) [NMDAR2B]


Medial temporal lobe atrophy relates more strongly to sleep-wake rhythm fragmentation than to age or any other known risk.

Atrophy of the medial temporal lobe of the brain is key to memory function and memory complaints in old age. While age and some morbidities are major risk factors for medial temporal lobe atrophy, individual differences remain, and mechanisms are insufficiently known. The largest combined neuroimaging and whole genome study to date indicates that medial temporal lobe volume is most associated with common polymorphisms in the GRIN2B gene that encodes for the 2B subunit (NR2B) of the NMDA receptor. Because sleep disruption induces a selective loss of NR2B from hippocampal synaptic membranes in rodents, and because of several other reports on medial temporal lobe sensitivity to sleep disruption, we hypothesized a contribution of the typical age-related increase in sleep-wake rhythm fragmentation to medial temporal lobe atrophy. Magnetic resonance imaging and actigraphy in 138 aged individuals showed that individual differences in sleep-wake rhythm fragmentation accounted for more (19%) of the variance in medial temporal lobe atrophy than age did (15%), or any of a list of health and brain structural indicators. The findings suggest a role of sleep-wake rhythm fragmentation in age-related medial temporal lobe atrophy, that might in part be prevented or reversible.

MeSH Terms

  • Actigraphy
  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Atrophy
  • Chronobiology Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Temporal Lobe


  • Aging
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Medial temporal lobe atrophy
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Physical activity
  • Rhythm fragmentation
  • Sleep

Gene Expression Switching of Receptor Subunits in Human Brain Development.

Synaptic receptors in the human brain consist of multiple protein subunits, many of which have multiple variants, coded by different genes, and are differentially expressed across brain regions and developmental stages. The brain can tune the electrophysiological properties of synapses to regulate plasticity and information processing by switching from one protein variant to another. Such condition-dependent variant switch during development has been demonstrated in several neurotransmitter systems including NMDA and GABA. Here we systematically detect pairs of receptor-subunit variants that switch during the lifetime of the human brain by analyzing postmortem expression data collected in a population of donors at various ages and brain regions measured using microarray and RNA-seq. To further detect variant pairs that co-vary across subjects, we present a method to quantify age-corrected expression correlation in face of strong temporal trends. This is achieved by computing the correlations in the residual expression beyond a cubic-spline model of the population temporal trend, and can be seen as a nonlinear version of partial correlations. Using these methods, we detect multiple new pairs of context dependent variants. For instance, we find a switch from GLRA2 to GLRA3 that differs from the known switch in the rat. We also detect an early switch from HTR1A to HTR5A whose trends are negatively correlated and find that their age-corrected expression is strongly positively correlated. Finally, we observe that GRIN2B switch to GRIN2A occurs mostly during embryonic development, presumably earlier than observed in rodents. These results provide a systematic map of developmental switching in the neurotransmitter systems of the human brain.

MeSH Terms

  • Aging
  • Brain
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genes, Switch
  • Humans
  • Protein Subunits
  • Receptors, GABA
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter
  • Synaptic Transmission