The Plasma Membrane Calcium Pumps--The Old and the New

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Neuroscience Letters


The plasma membrane Ca2+-ATPase (PMCA) pumps play a critical role in the maintenance of calcium (Ca2+) homeostasis, crucial for optimal neuronal function and cell survival. Loss of Ca2+ homeostasis is a key precursor in neuronal dysfunction associated with brain aging and in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders. In this article, we review evidence showing age-related changes in the PMCAs in synaptic plasma membranes (SPMs) and lipid raft microdomains isolated from rat brain. Both PMCA activity and protein levels decline progressively with increasing age. However, the loss of activity is disproportionate to the reduction of protein levels suggesting the presence of dysfunctional PMCA molecules in aged brain. PMCA activity is also diminished in post-mortem human brain samples from Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease patients and in cell models of these neurodegenerative disorders. Experimental reduction of the PMCAs not only alter Ca2+ homeostasis but also have diverse effects on neurons such as reduced neuritic network, impaired release of neurotransmitter and increased susceptibility to stressful stimuli, particularly to agents that elevate intracellular Ca2+ [Ca2+]i. Loss of PMCA is likely to contribute to neuronal dysfunction observed in the aging brain and in the development of age-dependent neurodegenerative disorders. Therapeutic (pharmacological and/or non-pharmacological) approaches that can enhance PMCA activity and stabilize [Ca2+]i homeostasis may be capable of preventing, slowing, and/or reversing neuronal degeneration.



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Brain aging, Calcium overload, Neurodegeneration, Oxidative stress, Plasma membrane Ca(2+)-ATPase