An age-dependent change in the set point of synaptic homeostasis

Rebekah E. Mahoney, Joel M. Rawson, Benjamin A. Eaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Homeostatic plasticity functions within the nervous system to maintain normal neural functions, such as neurotransmission, within predefined optimal ranges. The defined output of these neuronal processes is referred to as the set point, which is the value that the homeostatic system defends against fluctuations. Currently, it is unknown how stable homeostatic set points are within the nervous system. In the present study we used the CM9 neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) in the adult Drosophila to investigate the stability of the set point of synaptic homeostasis across the lifespan of the fly. At the fly NMJ, it is believed that the depolarization of the muscle by neurotransmitter during an action potential, represented by the EPSP, is a homeostatic set point that is precisely maintained via changes in synaptic vesicle release. We find that the amplitude of the EPSP abruptly increases during middle age and that this enhanced EPSP is maintained into late life, consistent with an age-dependent change to the homeostatic set point of the synapse during middle age. In support of this, comparison of the homeostatic response at the young versus the old synapse shows that the magnitude of the homeostatic response at the older synapse is significantly larger than the response at the young NMJ, appropriate for a synapse at which the set point has been increased. Our data demonstrate that the amplitude of the EPSP at the Drosophila NMJ increases during aging and that the homeostatic signaling system adjusts its response to accommodate the new set point.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2111-2119
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2014


  • Aging
  • Drosophila
  • Homeostasis
  • Neuromuscular junction
  • Neurotransmission
  • Set point

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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