The perineuronal net (PNN), a specialized aggregate of the extracellular matrix, is involved in neuroprotection against oxidative stress, which is now recognized as a major contributor to age-related decline in brain functions. In this study, we investigated the age-related molecular changes of PNNs using monoclonal antibody Cat-315, which recognizes human natural killer-1 (HNK-1) glycan on aggrecan-based PNNs. Western blot analysis showed that the expression levels of Cat-315 epitope in the hippocampus were higher in middle-aged (MA, 12-month-old) mice than in young adult (YA, 2-month-old) mice. Although there were no differences in the expression levels of Cat-315 epitope between old age (OA, 20-month-old) and MA mice, Cat-315 immunoreactivity was also detected in astrocytes of OA mice. To focus on Cat-315 epitope in PNNs, we used YA and MA mice in the following experiments. Optical disector analysis showed that there were no differences in the numbers of Cat-315-positive (Cat-315+) PNNs between YA and MA mice. Fluorescence intensity analysis indicated that Cat-315 immunoreactivity in PNNs increased with age in the dorsal hippocampus, which is mainly involved in cognitive functions. Administration of an open-channel blocker of NMDA receptor, memantine, reduced the expression levels of Cat-315 epitope in the hippocampus. Furthermore, the numbers of glutamatergic and GABAergic terminals colocalized with Cat-315 epitope around parvalbumin-positive neurons were decreased by memantine. These findings provide novel insight into the involvement of PNNs in normal brain ageing, and suggest that memantine may counteract the age-related alterations in expression levels of Cat-315 epitope via regulation of its subcellular localization.
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