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1.  The p75 neurotrophin receptor promotes Aβ-induced neuritic dystrophy in vitro and in vivo 
Oligomeric forms of amyloid-β(1–42) (Aβ) are thought to play a causal role in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and the p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR) has been implicated in Aβ-induced neurodegeneration. To further define the functions of p75NTR in AD, we examined the interaction of oligomeric Aβ with p75NTR, and the effects of that interaction on neurite integrity in neuron cultures and in a chronic AD mouse model. Atomic force microscopy was used to ascertain the aggregated state of Aβ, and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) analysis revealed that Aβ oligomers interact with the extracellular domain of p75NTR. In vitro studies of Aβ-induced death in neuron cultures isolated from wildtype and p75NTR −/− mice, in which the p75NTR extracellular domain is deleted, showed reduced sensitivity of mutant cells to Aβ-induced cell death. Interestingly, Aβ-induced neuritic dystrophy and activation of c-Jun, a known mediator of Aβ-induced deleterious signaling, were completely prevented in p75NTR −/− neuron cultures. Thy1-hAPPLond/Swe X p75NTR−/− mice exhibited significantly diminished hippocampal neuritic dystrophy and complete reversal of basal forebrain cholinergic neurite degeneration relative to those expressing wild type p75NTR. Aβ levels were not affected, suggesting that removal of p75NTR extracellular domain reduced the ability of excess Aβ to promote neuritic degeneration. These findings indicate that while p75NTR likely does not mediate all Aβ effects, it does play a significant role in enabling Aβ-induced neurodegeneration in vitro and in vivo, establishing p75NTR as an important therapeutic target for AD.
PMCID: PMC2771439  PMID: 19710315
p75NTR; amyloid-β; Alzheimer’s disease; neuritic dystrophy; neurodegeneration; basal forebrain cholinergic neurons
2.  Amyloid-β protofibril levels correlate with spatial learning in Arctic Alzheimer’s disease transgenic mice 
The FEBS journal  2009;276(4):995-1006.
Oligomeric assemblies of Amyloid-β (Aβ) are suggested to be central in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease, since levels of soluble Aβ much better correlate with the extent of cognitive dysfunctions than senile plaque counts do. Moreover, such Aβ species have been shown to be neurotoxic, to interfere with learned behavior and to inhibit maintenance of hippocampal long term potentiation. The tg-ArcSwe model, transgenic mice with the Arctic and Swedish Alzheimer mutations, expresses elevated levels of Aβ protofibrils in the brain, making tg-ArcSwe a highly suitable model to investigate the pathogenic role of these Aβ assemblies. In the present study, we estimated Aβ protofibril levels in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid of tg-ArcSwe mice, and also assessed their role with respect to cognitive functions. Protofibril levels, specifically measured with a sandwich ELISA, were found to be elevated in young tg-ArcSwe mice, as compared to several transgenic models lacking the Arctic mutation. In aged tg-ArcSwe mice with considerable plaque deposition, Aβ protofibrils were approximately 50 percent higher than in younger mice, whereas levels of total Aβ were exponentially increased. Young tg-ArcSwe mice showed deficits in spatial learning and individual performance in Morris water maze correlated inversely with levels of Aβ protofibrils, but not with total Aβ levels. We conclude that Aβ protofibrils accumulate in an age-dependent manner in tg-ArcSwe mice, although to a far less extent than total Aβ. Our findings suggest that increased levels of Aβ protofibrils could result in spatial learning impairment.
PMCID: PMC2752010  PMID: 19215301
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β protofibrils; Arctic mutation; transgenic mice; spatial learning
3.  Altered longevity-assurance activity of p53:p44 in the mouse causes memory loss, neurodegeneration and premature death 
Aging Cell  2010;9(2):174-190.
The longevity-assurance activity of the tumor suppressor p53 depends on the levels of Δ40p53 (p44), a short and naturally occurring isoform of the p53 gene. As such, increased dosage of p44 in the mouse leads to accelerated aging and short lifespan. Here we show that mice homozygous for a transgene encoding p44 (p44+/+) display cognitive decline and synaptic impairment early in life. The synaptic deficits are attributed to hyperactivation of insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF-1R) signaling and altered metabolism of the microtubule-binding protein tau. In fact, they were rescued by either Igf1r or Mapt haploinsufficiency. When expressing a human or a ‘humanized’ form of the amyloid precursor protein (APP), p44+/+ animals developed a selective degeneration of memory-forming and -retrieving areas of the brain, and died prematurely. Mechanistically, the neurodegeneration was caused by both paraptosis- and autophagy-like cell deaths. These results indicate that altered longevity-assurance activity of p53:p44 causes memory loss and neurodegeneration by affecting IGF-1R signaling. Importantly, Igf1r haploinsufficiency was also able to correct the synaptic deficits of APP695/swe mice, a model of Alzheimer’s disease.
PMCID: PMC2848983  PMID: 20409077
Alzheimer’s disease; insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor; memory loss; neurodegeneration; p44; p53
4.  FLZ Alleviates the Memory Deficits in Transgenic Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease via Decreasing Beta-Amyloid Production and Tau Hyperphosphorylation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78033.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia worldwide and mainly characterized by the aggregated β-amyloid (Aβ) and hyperphosphorylated tau. FLZ is a novel synthetic derivative of natural squamosamide and has been proved to improve memory deficits in dementia animal models. In this study, we aimed to investigate the mechanisms of FLZ’s neuroprotective effect in APP/PS1 double transgenic mice and SH-SY5Y (APPwt/swe) cells. The results showed that treatment with FLZ significantly improved the memory deficits of APP/PS1 transgenic mice and decreased apoptosis of SH-SY5Y (APPwt/swe) cells. FLZ markedly attenuated Aβ accumulation and tau phosphorylation both in vivo and in vitro. Mechanistic study showed that FLZ interfered APP processing, i.e., FLZ decreased β-amyloid precursor protein (APP) phosphorylation, APP-carboxy-terminal fragment (APP-CTF) production and β-amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1) expression. These results indicated that FLZ reduced Aβ production through inhibiting amyloidogenic pathway. The mechanistic study about FLZ’s inhibitory effect on tau phosphorylation revealed t the involvement of Akt/glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) pathway. FLZ treatment increased Akt activity and inhibited GSK3β activity both in vivo and in vitro. The inhibitory effect of FLZ on GSK3β activity and tau phosphorylation was suppressed by inhibiting Akt activity, indicating that Akt/GSK3β pathway might be the possible mechanism involved in the inhibitory effect of FLZ on tau hyperphosphorylation. These results suggested FLZ might be a potential anti-AD drug as it not only reduced Aβ production via inhibition amyloidogenic APP processing pathway, but also attenuated tau hyperphosphoylation mediated by Akt/GSK3β.
PMCID: PMC3817172  PMID: 24223757
5.  The neurotrophic compound J147 reverses cognitive impairment in aged Alzheimer's disease mice 
Despite years of research, there are no disease-modifying drugs for Alzheimer's disease (AD), a fatal, age-related neurodegenerative disorder. Screening for potential therapeutics in rodent models of AD has generally relied on testing compounds before pathology is present, thereby modeling disease prevention rather than disease modification. Furthermore, this approach to screening does not reflect the clinical presentation of AD patients which could explain the failure to translate compounds identified as beneficial in animal models to disease modifying compounds in clinical trials. Clearly a better approach to pre-clinical drug screening for AD is required.
To more accurately reflect the clinical setting, we used an alternative screening strategy involving the treatment of AD mice at a stage in the disease when pathology is already advanced. Aged (20-month-old) transgenic AD mice (APP/swePS1ΔE9) were fed an exceptionally potent, orally active, memory enhancing and neurotrophic molecule called J147. Cognitive behavioral assays, histology, ELISA and Western blotting were used to assay the effect of J147 on memory, amyloid metabolism and neuroprotective pathways. J147 was also investigated in a scopolamine-induced model of memory impairment in C57Bl/6J mice and compared to donepezil. Details on the pharmacology and safety of J147 are also included.
Data presented here demonstrate that J147 has the ability to rescue cognitive deficits when administered at a late stage in the disease. The ability of J147 to improve memory in aged AD mice is correlated with its induction of the neurotrophic factors NGF (nerve growth factor) and BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) as well as several BDNF-responsive proteins which are important for learning and memory. The comparison between J147 and donepezil in the scopolamine model showed that while both compounds were comparable at rescuing short term memory, J147 was superior at rescuing spatial memory and a combination of the two worked best for contextual and cued memory.
J147 is an exciting new compound that is extremely potent, safe in animal studies and orally active. J147 is a potential AD therapeutic due to its ability to provide immediate cognition benefits, and it also has the potential to halt and perhaps reverse disease progression in symptomatic animals as demonstrated in these studies.
PMCID: PMC3706879  PMID: 23673233
6.  The effect of cadmium on Aβ levels in APP/PS1 transgenic mice 
Cadmium (Cd), which is a poisonous trace element, has been reported extensively to lead to morphological and biochemical abnormalities of the central nervous system, memory loss and mental retardation. We studied the Alzheimer’s disease-related toxicity of Cd in a mouse model [amyloid precursor protein (APP)/ presenilin 1 (PS1) transgenic mice, dual transfection of APP695swe and mutated PS1 genes]. Behavioral changes were detected using the Morris water maze test. The β-amyloid protein (Aβ) levels were determined using immunohistochemistry and ELISA. The free zinc ion concentration in mouse brain was determined using autometallography. The protein expression of α-secretase, soluble APPα (sAPPα) and neutral endopeptidase (NEP) in the mouse cerebral cortex and hippocampus was detected using western blotting. We found that Cd treatment increased the latency and distance of the platform search and reduced the number of platform crossings. The number and size of senile plaques in the brains of Cd-treated mice were significantly increased. The levels of Aβ1-42 and free zinc ions were increased. The expression of ADAM10, sAPPα and NEP protein was reduced. We speculated that Cd reduced the expression of ADAM10, sAPPα and NEP protein, which caused an increase in the levels of Aβ1-42 and free zinc ions and led to the accelerated Aβ deposition found in the experimental animals and their abnormal behavior.
PMCID: PMC3460286  PMID: 23060935
Alzheimer’s disease; cadmium; zinc; amyloid precursor protein; α-secretase; soluble amyloid precursor protein α; neutral endopeptidase
7.  Decreased Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Depends on Amyloid Aggregation State in Transgenic Mouse Models of Alzheimer’s Disease 
Downregulation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the cortex occurs early in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Since BDNF plays a critical role in neuronal survival, synaptic plasticity, and memory, BDNF reduction may contribute to synaptic and cellular loss and memory deficits characteristic of AD. In vitro evidence suggests that amyloid-β (Aβ) contributes to BDNF downregulation in AD, but the specific Aβ aggregation state responsible for this downregulation in vivo is unknown. In the present study, we examined cortical levels of BDNF mRNA in three different transgenic AD mouse models harboring mutations in APP resulting in Aβ overproduction, and in a genetic mouse model of Down syndrome. Two of the three Aβ transgenic strains (APPNLh and TgCRND8) exhibited significantly decreased cortical BDNF mRNA levels compared with wild-type mice, whereas neither the other strain (APP swe/PS-1) nor the Down syndrome mouse model (Ts65Dn) was affected. Only APPNLh and TgCRND8 mice expressed high Aβ42/Aβ40 ratios and larger SDS-stable Aβ oligomers (~115 kDa). TgCRND8 mice exhibited downregulation of BDNF transcripts III and IV; transcript IV is also downregulated in AD. Furthermore, in all transgenic mouse strains, there was a correlation between levels of large oligomers, Aβ42/Aβ40, and severity of BDNF decrease. These data show that the amount and species of Aβ vary among transgenic mouse models of AD and are negatively correlated with BDNF levels. These findings also suggest that the effect of Aβ on decreased BDNF expression is specific to the aggregation state of Aβ and is dependent on large oligomers.
PMCID: PMC3411546  PMID: 19625522 CAMSID: cams2275
8.  Comprehensive Behavioral Phenotyping of Ts65Dn Mouse Model of Down Syndrome: Activation of β1-Adrenergic Receptor by Xamoterol as a Potential Cognitive Enhancer 
Neurobiology of disease  2011;43(2):397-413.
Down Syndrome (DS) is the most prevalent form of mental retardation caused by genetic abnormalities in humans. This has been successfully modeled in mice to generate the Ts65Dn mouse, a genetic model of DS. This transgenic mouse model shares a number of physical and functional abnormalities with people with DS, including changes in the structure and function of neuronal circuits. Significant abnormalities in noradrenergic (NE-ergic) afferents from the locus coeruleus to the hippocampus, as well as deficits in NE-ergic neurotransmission are detected in these animals.
In the current study we characterized in detail the behavioral phenotype of Ts65Dn mice, in addition to using pharmacological tools for identification of target receptors mediating the learning and memory deficits observed in this model of DS. We undertook a comprehensive approach to mouse phenotyping using a battery of standard and novel tests encompassing: i) locomotion (Activity Chamber, PhenoTyper, and CatWalk), ii) learning and memory (spontaneous alternation, delayed matching-to-place water maze, fear conditioning, and Intellicage), and iii) social behavior.
Ts65Dn mice showed increased locomotor activity in novel and home cage environments. There were significant and reproducible deficits in learning and memory tests including spontaneous alternation, delayed matching-to-place water maze, Intellicage place avoidance and contextual fear conditioning. Although Ts65Dn mice showed no deficit in sociability in the 3-chamber test, a marked impairment in social memory was detected. Xamoterol, a β1-adrenergic receptor (β1-ADR) agonist, effectively restored the memory deficit in contextual fear conditioning, spontaneous alternation and novel object recognition. These behavioral improvements were reversed by betaxolol, a selective β1-ADR antagonist.
In conclusion, our results demonstrate that this mouse model of Down Syndrome display cognitive deficits which is mediated by imbalance in noradrenergic system. In this experimental model of Down Syndrome a selective activation of β1-ADR does restore some of these behavioral deficits. Further mechanistic studies will be needed to investigate the failure of noradrenergic system and the role of β1-ADR in cognitive deficit and pathogenesis of DS in people. Restoring NE neurotransmission or a selective activation of β1-ADR need to be further investigated for development of any potential therapeutic strategies for symptomatic relieve of memory deficit in DS. Furthermore, due to the significant involvement of noradrenergic system in the cardiovascular function further safety and translational studies will be needed to ensure the safety and efficacy of this approach.
PMCID: PMC3539757  PMID: 21527343
Down Syndrome; behavior; Ts65Dn mouse; memory; social interaction; xamoterol; betaxolol; noradrenergic system; neurodegenerative disorder
9.  Limited clearance of pre-existing amyloid plaques after intracerebral injection of Aβ antibodies in two mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease 
Recent studies have demonstrated the potential utility of antibodies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In transgenic mouse models of AD, peripheral and intracerebral administration of Aβ-specific antibodies reduces amyloid burdens to varied extents. The mechanism may involve clearance of pre-existing amyloid plaques or prevention of new amyloid formation. Here we have used two transgenic models, the inducible CamKII-ttAxtetAPP/swe/ind (Line 107) and the APPswe/PS1dE9 (Line 85), to test the ability of intracerebral injection of Aβ antibodies to clear amyloid. Because the production of Aβ peptides in the Line 107 model is inducible, whereas production in Line 85 mice is constitutive, we could study the effects of antibody on pre-existing plaques versus continuous plaque formation. In Line 85, injection of antibody resulted in modest but statistically significant reductions in amyloid burden (average, 14–16%). However, injected antibodies had no effect on amyloid burden in Line 107 under conditions in which the production of Aβ was suppressed, indicating that pre-existing plaques are not rapidly cleared. These results indicate that, in these two models, intracerebral injection of Aβ antibodies produces modest reductions in amyloid deposition; and suggest that the mechanism may involve prevention of new amyloid deposits rather than clearance of pre-existing plaques.
PMCID: PMC3972013  PMID: 18091561
Alzheimer’s disease; AD; immunotherapy; Aβ; antibody; amyloid precursor protein; APP
10.  Using mice to model Alzheimer's dementia: an overview of the clinical disease and the preclinical behavioral changes in 10 mouse models 
The goal of this review is to discuss how behavioral tests in mice relate to the pathological and neuropsychological features seen in human Alzheimer's disease (AD), and present a comprehensive analysis of the temporal progression of behavioral impairments in commonly used AD mouse models that contain mutations in amyloid precursor protein (APP). We begin with a brief overview of the neuropathological changes seen in the AD brain and an outline of some of the clinical neuropsychological assessments used to measure cognitive deficits associated with the disease. This is followed by a critical assessment of behavioral tasks that are used in AD mice to model the cognitive changes seen in the human disease. Behavioral tests discussed include spatial memory tests [Morris water maze (MWM), radial arm water maze (RAWM), Barnes maze], associative learning tasks (passive avoidance, fear conditioning), alternation tasks (Y-Maze/T-Maze), recognition memory tasks (Novel Object Recognition), attentional tasks (3 and 5 choice serial reaction time), set-shifting tasks, and reversal learning tasks. We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each of these behavioral tasks, and how they may correlate with clinical assessments in humans. Finally, the temporal progression of both cognitive and non-cognitive deficits in 10 AD mouse models (PDAPP, TG2576, APP23, TgCRND8, J20, APP/PS1, TG2576 + PS1 (M146L), APP/PS1 KI, 5×FAD, and 3×Tg-AD) are discussed in detail. Mouse models of AD and the behavioral tasks used in conjunction with those models are immensely important in contributing to our knowledge of disease progression and are a useful tool to study AD pathophysiology and the resulting cognitive deficits. However, investigators need to be aware of the potential weaknesses of the available preclinical models in terms of their ability to model cognitive changes observed in human AD. It is our hope that this review will assist investigators in selecting an appropriate mouse model, and accompanying behavioral paradigms to investigate different aspects of AD pathology and disease progression.
PMCID: PMC4005958  PMID: 24795750
Alzheimer's disease; mouse models; neuropsychological assessment; behavior; cognition; APP mice; APP/PS1 mice; 3×TG-AD mice
11.  Normal cognition in transgenic BRI2-Aβ mice 
Recent research in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) field has been focused on the potential role of the amyloid-β protein that is derived from the transmembrane amyloid precursor protein (APP) in directly mediating cognitive impairment in AD. Transgenic mouse models overexpressing APP develop robust AD-like amyloid pathology in the brain and show various levels of cognitive decline. In the present study, we examined the cognition of the BRI2-Aβ transgenic mouse model in which secreted extracellular Aβ1-40, Aβ1-42 or both Aβ1-40/Aβ1-42 peptides are generated from the BRI-Aβ fusion proteins encoded by the transgenes. BRI2-Aβ mice produce high levels of Aβ peptides and BRI2-Aβ1-42 mice develop amyloid pathology that is similar to the pathology observed in mutant human APP transgenic models.
Using established behavioral tests that reveal deficits in APP transgenic models, BRI2-Aβ1-42 mice showed completely intact cognitive performance at ages both pre and post amyloid plaque formation. BRI2-Aβ mice producing Aβ1-40 or both peptides were also cognitively intact.
These data indicate that high levels of Aβ1-40 or Aβ1-42, or both produced in the absence of APP overexpression do not reproduce memory deficits observed in APP transgenic mouse models. This outcome is supportive of recent data suggesting that APP processing derivatives or the overexpression of full length APP may contribute to cognitive decline in APP transgenic mouse models. Alternatively, Aβ aggregates may impact cognition by a mechanism that is not fully recapitulated in these BRI2-Aβ mouse models.
PMCID: PMC3658944  PMID: 23663320
Alzheimer’s disease; Mouse models; Amyloid-β; Amyloid plaques; Cognition
12.  Comprehensive behavioral characterization of an APP/PS-1 double knock-in mouse model of Alzheimer's disease 
Despite the extensive mechanistic and pathological characterization of the amyloid precursor protein (APP)/presenilin-1 (PS-1) knock-in mouse model of Alzheimer's disease (AD), very little is known about the AD-relevant behavioral deficits in this model. Characterization of the baseline behavioral performance in a variety of functional tasks and identification of the temporal onset of behavioral impairments are important to provide a foundation for future preclinical testing of AD therapeutics. Here we perform a comprehensive behavioral characterization of this model, discuss how the observed behavior correlates with the mechanistic and pathological observations of others, and compare this model with other commonly used AD mouse models.
Four different groups of mice ranging across the lifespan of this model (test groups: 7, 11, 15, and 24 months old) were run in a behavioral test battery consisting of tasks to assess motor function (grip strength, rotor rod, beam walk, open field ambulatory movement), anxiety-related behavior (open field time spent in peripheral zone vs. center zone, elevated plus maze), and cognitive function (novel object recognition, radial arm water maze).
There were no differences in motor function or anxiety-related behavior between APP/PS-1 knock-in mice and wild-type counterpart mice for any age group. Cognitive deficits in both recognition memory (novel object recognition) and spatial reference memory (radial arm water maze) became apparent for the knock-in animals as the disease progressed.
This is the first reported comprehensive behavioral analysis of the APP/PS1 knock-in mouse model of AD. The lack of motor/coordination deficits or abnormal anxiety levels, coupled with the age/disease-related cognitive decline and high physiological relevance of this model, make it well suited for utilization in preclinical testing of AD-relevant therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3706792  PMID: 23705774
Alzheimer's disease; amyloid precursor protein/presenilin-1; motor behavior; anxiety behavior; cognition; learning and memory; spatial reference memory; recognition memory; transgenic mouse model
13.  Therapeutic effects of the transplantation of VEGF overexpressing bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells in the hippocampus of murine model of Alzheimer’s disease 
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is clinically characterized by progressive memory loss, behavioral and learning dysfunction and cognitive deficits, such as alterations in social interactions. The major pathological features of AD are the formation of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles together with neuronal and vascular damage. The double transgenic mouse model of AD (2xTg-AD) with the APPswe/PS1dE9 mutations shows characteristics that are similar to those observed in AD patients, including social memory impairment, senile plaque formation and vascular deficits. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), when transplanted into the brain, produce positive effects by reducing amyloid-beta (Aβ) deposition in transgenic amyloid precursor protein (APP)/presenilins1 (PS1) mice. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), exhibits neuroprotective effects against the excitotoxicity implicated in the AD neurodegeneration. The present study investigates the effects of MSCs overexpressing VEGF in hippocampal neovascularization, cognitive dysfunction and senile plaques present in 2xTg-AD transgenic mice. MSC were transfected with vascular endothelial growth factor cloned in uP vector under control of modified CMV promoter (uP-VEGF) vector, by electroporation and expanded at the 14th passage. 2xTg-AD animals at 6, 9 and 12 months old were transplanted with MSC-VEGF or MSC. The animals were tested for behavioral tasks to access locomotion, novelty exploration, learning and memory, and their brains were analyzed by immunohistochemistry (IHC) for vascularization and Aβ plaques. MSC-VEGF treatment favored the neovascularization and diminished senile plaques in hippocampal specific layers. Consequently, the treatment was able to provide behavioral benefits and reduce cognitive deficits by recovering the innate interest to novelty and counteracting memory deficits present in these AD transgenic animals. Therefore, this study has important therapeutic implications for the vascular damage in the neurodegeneration promoted by AD.
PMCID: PMC3945612  PMID: 24639647
Alzheimer’s disease; memory deficits; mesenchymal stem cell; vascular endothelial growth factor; angiogenesis; amyloid plaques
14.  Anti-PrPC monoclonal antibody infusion as a novel treatment for cognitive deficits in an alzheimer's disease model mouse 
BMC Neuroscience  2010;11:130.
Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is the most common of the conformational neurodegenerative disorders characterized by the conversion of a normal biological protein into a β-sheet-rich pathological isoform. In AD the normal soluble Aβ (sAβ) forms oligomers and fibrils which assemble into neuritic plaques. The most toxic form of Aβ is thought to be oligomeric. A recent study reveals the cellular prion protein, PrPC, to be a receptor for Aβ oligomers. Aβ oligomers suppress LTP signal in murine hippocampal slices but activity remains when pretreated with the PrP monoclonal anti-PrP antibody, 6D11. We hypothesized that targeting of PrPC to prevent Aβ oligomer-related cognitive deficits is a potentially novel therapeutic approach. APP/PS1 transgenic mice aged 8 months were intraperitoneally (i.p.) injected with 1 mg 6D11 for 5 days/week for 2 weeks. Two wild-type control groups were given either the same 6D11 injections or vehicle solution. Additional groups of APP/PS1 transgenic mice were given either i.p. injections of vehicle solution or the same dose of mouse IgG over the same period. The mice were then subjected to cognitive behavioral testing using a radial arm maze, over a period of 10 days. At the conclusion of behavioral testing, animals were sacrificed and brain tissue was analyzed biochemically or immunohistochemically for the levels of amyloid plaques, PrPC, synaptophysin, Aβ40/42 and Aβ oligomers.
Behavioral testing showed a marked decrease in errors in 6D11 treated APP/PS1 Tg mice compared with the non-6D11 treated Tg groups (p < 0.0001). 6D11 treated APP/PS1 Tg mice behaved the same as wild-type controls indicating a recovery in cognitive learning, even after this short term 6D11 treatment. Brain tissue analysis from both treated and vehicle treated APP/PS1 groups indicate no significant differences in amyloid plaque burden, Aβ40/42, PrPC or Aβ oligomer levels. 6D11 treated APP/PS1 Tg mice had significantly greater synaptophysin immunoreactivity in the dentate gyrus molecular layer of the hippocampus compared to vehicle treated APP/PS1 Tg mice (p < 0.05).
Even short term treatment with monoclonal antibodies such as 6D11 or other compounds which block the binding of Aβ oligomers to PrPC can be used to treat cognitive deficits in aged AD transgenic mice.
PMCID: PMC2964735  PMID: 20946660
Translational neuroscience  2013;4(1):8-19.
Transgenic mouse models with knock-in (KI) expression of human mutant amyloid precursor protein (APP) and/or human presenilin 1 (PS1) may be helpful to elucidate the cellular consequences of APP and PS1 misprocessing in the aging brain. Age-related alterations in total numbers of neurons and in numbers of synaptophysin-immunoreactive presynaptic boutons (SIPB), as well as the amyloid plaque load were analyzed in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG), CA3, and CA1–2 of 2- and 10-month-old APPSL/PS1 homozygous KI, APPSL (expressing human mutant APP751 carrying the Swedish [K670N/M671L] and London [V717I] mutations under Thy-1 promoter), and PS1 homozygous KI mice (expressing human PS1 mutations [M233T and L235P]). APPSL/PS1 homozygous KI mice, but neither APPSL mice nor PS1 homozygous KI mice, showed substantial age-related loss of neurons (−47.2%) and SIPB (−22.6%), specifically in CA1–2. PS1 homozygous KI mice showed an age-related increase in hippocampal granule cell numbers (+37.9%). Loss of neurons and SIPB greatly exceeded the amount of local extracellular Aβ aggregation and astrocytes, whereas region-specific accumulation of intraneuronal Aβ preceded neuron and synapse loss. An age-related increase in the ratio of SIPB to neuron numbers in CA1–2 of APPSL/PS1 homozygous KI mice was suggestive of compensatory synaptic plasticity. These findings indicate a region-selectivity in intra- and extraneuronal Aβ accumulation in connection with neuron and synapse loss in the hippocampus of APPSL/PS1 homozygous KI mice.
PMCID: PMC4018205  PMID: 24829793
Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid precursor protein; Neuron loss; Synapse loss; Hippocampus; Presenilin-1; Stereology; Image analysis
16.  Neurofibrillary and neurodegenerative pathology in APP-transgenic mice injected with AAV2-mutant TAU: neuroprotective effects of Cerebrolysin 
Acta neuropathologica  2009;117(6):699-712.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) continues to be the most common cause of cognitive and motor alterations in the aging population. Accumulation of amyloid β (Aβ)-protein oligomers and the microtubule associated protein-TAU might be responsible for the neurological damage. We have previously shown that Cerebrolysin (CBL) reduces the synaptic and behavioral deficits in amyloid precursor protein (APP) transgenic (tg) mice by decreasing APP phosphorylation via modulation of glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK3β) and cyclin-dependent kinase-5 (CDK5) activity. These kinases also regulate TAU phosphorylation and are involved in promoting neurofibrillary pathology. In order to investigate the neuroprotective effects of CBL on TAU pathology, a new model for neurofibrillary alterations was developed using somatic gene transfer with adeno-associated virus (AAV2)-mutant (mut) TAU (P301L). The Thy1-APP tg mice (3 m/o) received bilateral injections of AAV2-mutTAU or AAV2-GFP, into the hippocampus. After 3 months, compared to non-tg controls, in APP tg mice intra-hippocampal injections with AAV2-mutTAU resulted in localized increased accumulation of phosphorylated TAU and neurodegeneration. Compared with vehicle controls, treatment with CBL in APP tg injected with AAV2-mutTAU resulted in a significant decrease in the levels of TAU phosphorylation at critical sites dependent on GSK3β and CDK5 activity. This was accompanied by amelioration of the neurodegenerative alterations in the hippocampus. This study supports the concept that the neuroprotective effects of CBL may involve the reduction of TAU phosphorylation by regulating kinase activity.
PMCID: PMC3049872  PMID: 19252918
Alzheimer’s; Amyloid precursor protein; Phosphorylation; Kinase; Hippocampus; Viral vector
17.  Thy-1 Attenuates TNF-α-Activated Gene Expression in Mouse Embryonic Fibroblasts via Src Family Kinase 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11662.
Heterogeneous surface expression of Thy-1 in fibroblasts modulates inflammation and may thereby modulate injury and repair. As a paradigm, patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a disease with pathologic features of chronic inflammation, demonstrate an absence of Thy-1 immunoreactivity within areas of fibrotic activity (fibroblast foci) in contrast to the predominant Thy-1 expressing fibroblasts in the normal lung. Likewise, Thy-1 deficient mice display more severe lung fibrosis in response to an inflammatory injury than wildtype littermates. We investigated the role of Thy-1 in the response of fibroblasts to the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-α. Our study demonstrates distinct profiles of TNF-α-activated gene expression in Thy-1 positive (Thy-1+) and negative (Thy-1−) subsets of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF). TNF-α induced a robust activation of MMP-9, ICAM-1, and the IL-8 promoter driven reporter in Thy-1− MEFs, in contrast to only a modest increase in Thy-1+ counterparts. Consistently, ectopic expression of Thy-1 in Thy-1− MEFs significantly attenuated TNF-α-activated gene expression. Mechanistically, TNF-α activated Src family kinase (SFK) only in Thy-1− MEFs. Blockade of SFK activation abrogated TNF-α-activated gene expression in Thy-1− MEFs, whereas restoration of SFK activation rescued the TNF-α response in Thy-1+ MEFs. Our findings suggest that Thy-1 down-regulates TNF-α-activated gene expression via interfering with SFK- and NF-κB-mediated transactivation. The current study provides a novel mechanistic insight to the distinct roles of fibroblast Thy-1 subsets in inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2906514  PMID: 20657842
18.  Olfactory deficits in mice overexpressing human wildtype α-synuclein 
Accumulation of α-synuclein in neurons of the central and peripheral nervous system is a hallmark of sporadic Parkinson’s disease (PD) and mutations that increase α-synuclein levels cause familial PD. Transgenic mice overexpressing α-synuclein under the Thy1 promoter (Thy1-aSyn) have high levels of α-synuclein expression throughout the brain but no loss of nigrostriatal dopamine neurons up to 8 months, suggesting that they may be useful to model pre-clinical stages of PD. Olfactory dysfunction often precedes the onset of the cardinal motor symptoms of PD by several years and includes deficits in odor detection, discrimination and identification. In the present study, we measured olfactory function in 3- and 9-month-old male Thy1-aSyn mice with a buried pellet test based on latency to find an exposed or hidden odorant, a block test based on exposure to self and non-self odors, and a habituation/dishabituation test based on exposure to non-social odors. In a separate group of mice, α-synuclein immunoreactivity was assessed in the olfactory bulb. Compared with wildtype littermates, Thy1-aSyn mice could still detect and habituate to odors but showed olfactory impairments in aspects of all three testing paradigms. Thy1-aSyn mice also displayed proteinase K-resistant α-synuclein inclusions throughout the olfactory bulb. These data indicate that overexpression of α-synuclein is sufficient to cause olfactory deficits in mice similar to that observed in patients with PD. Furthermore, the buried pellet and block tests provided sufficient power for the detection of a 50% drug effect, indicating their usefulness for testing novel neuroprotective therapies.
PMCID: PMC3108548  PMID: 18702696
behavior; movement; odor; olfaction; Parkinson’s disease
19.  Long-term prevention of Alzheimer’s disease-like behavioral deficits in PDAPP mice carrying a mutation in Asp664 
Behavioural brain research  2008;191(2):246-255.
The deficits of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are believed to result, at least in part, from neurotoxicity of β-amyloid (Aβ), a set of 38–43 amino acid fragments derived from the β-amyloid precursor protein (APP). In addition, APP generates the APP-C31 and Jcasp toxic fragments intracellularly by cleavage at Asp664. We reported that mutation of Asp664 to A in a FAD-human APP transgene prevented AD-like deficits but did not affect Aβ production or deposition in PDAPP mice, arguing that D664A plays a crucial role in the generation of AD-like deficits. Whether D664A simply delays or completely prevents AD-like deficits, however, remained undefined. To address this question, we performed behavioral studies longitudinally on a pretrained mouse cohort at 9 and 13 months of age. While behavioral deficits were present in PDAPP mice, performance of Tg PDAPP(D664A) mice was not significantly different from non-Tg littermates’ across all ages tested. Moreover, aberrant patterns in non-cognitive components of behavior in PDAPP mice were ameliorated in PDAPP(D664A) animals as well. A trend towards poorer retention at 9 mo and poorer learning at 13 mo that did not reach statistical significance was observed in PDAPP(D664A) mice. These results support and extend recent studies showing that cleavage of APP at Asp664 (or protein-protein interactions dependent on Asp664) is a crucial event in the generation of AD-like deficits in PDAPP mice. Our results thus further demonstrate that the D664A mutation either completely precludes, or markedly delays (beyond 13 mo) the appearance of AD-like deficits in this mouse model of AD.
PMCID: PMC2757410  PMID: 18485495
Memory; transgenic mice; amyloid; Morris water maze; caspase; behavior
20.  The Involvement of Cdk5 Activator p35 in Social Isolation-Triggered Onset of Early Alzheimer's Disease-Related Cognitive Deficit in the Transgenic Mice 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2011;36(9):1848-1858.
Epidemiological studies indicate that isolated persons have increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD). This study investigated the cellular mechanisms of how social isolation influenced amyloid β peptide (Aβ) accumulation and affected the severity of AD-associated cognitive decline in a mouse model of AD. Amyloid precursor protein (APP) and presenilin 1 (PS1) double-transgenic (APP/PS1) mice were placed either in isolation or in group from postnatal day 28 and tested for cognitive performance at the age of 3 months with fear-conditioning paradigms. We found that social isolation accelerated impairment of contextual fear memory in the APP/PS1 mice. The magnitude of long-term potentiation in the hippocampal CA1 neurons was significantly lower in the isolated APP/PS1 mice compared with group APP/PS1 and wild-type mice. Hippocampal level of Aβ was significantly elevated in the isolated APP/PS1 mice, which was accompanied by an increased calpain activity and p25/p35 ratio. In addition, surface expression of GluR1 subunit of AMPA receptor was decreased by social isolation. The association of p35, and α-CaMKII was significantly less in the isolated APP/PS1 mice indicating that their interaction was impaired. These results suggest that social isolation exacerbates memory deficit by increasing Aβ level, leading to the increased calpain activity, conversion of p35 to p25 and decrease in association of p35, α-CaMKII, and GluR1, resulting in the endocytosis of AMPA receptors.
PMCID: PMC3154103  PMID: 21544067
social isolation; amyloid-β peptide; long-term potentiation; learning and memory; Alzheimer's disease; Alzheimer's disease; biological psychiatry; learning and memory; development/developmental disorders; social isolation; β-amyloid peptide; long-term potentiation
21.  Low Sociability in BTBR T+tf/J Mice is Independent of Partner Strain 
Physiology & behavior  2012;107(5):649-662.
Inbred mouse strains differ greatly in social behaviors, making them a valuable resource to study genetic and non-genetic mechanisms underlying social deficits relevant to autism spectrum disorders. A hallmark symptom of autism is a lack of ability to understand other people’s thoughts and intentions, which leads to impairments in adjusting behaviors in response to ever-changing social situations in daily life. We compared the ability of BTBR T+ tf/J (BTBR), a strain with low sociability, and C57BL/6J (B6), a strain with high sociability, for their abilities to modulate responses to social cues from different partners in the reciprocal social interaction test. Results indicate that BTBR exhibited low sociability toward different partners and displayed minimal ability to modify behaviors toward different partners. In contract, B6 showed high sociability toward different partners and was able to modify social behaviors toward different partners. Consistent results were found in two independent cohorts of different ages, and in both sexes. In the three-chambered test, high sociability in B6 and low sociability in BTBR were independent of strain of the novel mouse. Since social deficits in BTBR could potentially be caused by physical disabilities in detecting social olfactory cues, or in cognitive abilities, we tested BTBR and B6 mice on measures of olfaction and cognition. BTBR mice displayed more sniffing of social odors emitted by soiled bedding than of an odorless novel object, but failed to show a preference for a live novel mouse over a novel object. On olfactory habituation/dishabituation to a sequence of odors, BTBR displayed discrimination abilities across three non-social and two social odors. However, as compared to B6, BTBR displayed less sniff time for both non-social and social odors, and no significant dishabituation between cage odors from two different novel mouse strains, findings that will be important to investigate further. BTBR was generally normal in spatial acquisition on the Morris water maze test, but showed deficits in reversal learning. Time spent freezing on contextual and cued fear conditioning was lower in BTBR than in B6. Our findings suggest that BTBR has poor abilities to modulate its responses to different social partners, which may be analogous to social cognition deficits in autism, adding to the value of this strain as a mouse model of autism.
PMCID: PMC3330157  PMID: 22245067
Autism; mouse models mouse social behaviors; inbred strains; three-chambered social approach task; reciprocal social interaction; BTBR T+tf/J; social partner; olfactory habituation/dishabituation; repetitive behaviors
22.  Early-Onset and Robust Amyloid Pathology in a New Homozygous Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(11):e7931.
Transgenic mice expressing mutated amyloid precursor protein (APP) and presenilin (PS)-1 or -2 have been successfully used to model cerebral β-amyloidosis, one of the characteristic hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology. However, the use of many transgenic lines is limited by premature death, low breeding efficiencies and late onset and high inter-animal variability of the pathology, creating a need for improved animal models. Here we describe the detailed characterization of a new homozygous double-transgenic mouse line that addresses most of these issues.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The transgenic mouse line (ARTE10) was generated by co-integration of two transgenes carrying the K670N/M671L mutated amyloid precursor protein (APPswe) and the M146V mutated presenilin 1 (PS1) both under control of a neuron-specific promoter. Mice, hemi- as well as homozygous for both transgenes, are viable and fertile with good breeding capabilities and a low rate of premature death. They develop robust AD-like cerebral β-amyloid plaque pathology with glial inflammation, signs of neuritic dystrophy and cerebral amyloid angiopathy. Using our novel image analysis algorithm for semi-automatic quantification of plaque burden, we demonstrate an early onset and progressive plaque deposition starting at 3 months of age in homozygous mice with low inter-animal variability and 100%-penetrance of the phenotype. The plaques are readily detected in vivo by PiB, the standard human PET tracer for AD. In addition, ARTE10 mice display early loss of synaptic markers and age-related cognitive deficits. By applying a γ-secretase inhibitor we show a dose dependent reduction of soluble amyloid β levels in the brain.
ARTE10 mice develop a cerebral β-amyloidosis closely resembling the β-amyloid-related aspects of human AD neuropathology. Unifying several advantages of previous transgenic models, this line particularly qualifies for the use in target validation and for evaluating potential diagnostic or therapeutic agents targeting the amyloid pathology of AD.
PMCID: PMC2775952  PMID: 19936202
23.  Memory deficits in APP23/Abca1+/− mice correlate with the level of Aβ oligomers 
ASN NEURO  2009;1(2):e00006.
ABCA1, a member of the ATP-binding cassette family of transporters, lipidates ApoE (apolipoprotein A) and is essential for the generation of HDL (high-density lipoprotein)-like particles in the CNS (central nervous system). Lack of Abca1 increases amyloid deposition in several AD (Alzheimer's disease) mouse models. We hypothesized that deletion of only one copy of Abca1 in APP23 (where APP is amyloid precursor protein) AD model mice will aggravate memory deficits in these mice. Using the Morris Water Maze, we demonstrate that 2-year-old Abca1 heterozygous APP23 mice (referred to as APP23/het) have impaired learning during acquisition, and impaired memory retention during the probe trial when compared with age-matched wild-type mice (referred to as APP23/wt). As in our previous studies, the levels of ApoE in APP23/het mice were decreased, but the differences in the levels of Aβ and thioflavin-S-positive plaques between both groups were insignificant. Importantly, dot blot analysis demonstrated that APP23/het mice have a significantly higher level of soluble A11-positive Aβ (amyloid β protein) oligomers compared with APP23/wt which correlated negatively with cognitive performance. To confirm this finding, we performed immunohistochemistry with the A11 antibody, which revealed a significant increase of A11-positive oligomer structures in the CA1 region of hippocampi of APP23/het. This characteristic region-specific pattern of A11 staining was age-dependent and was missing in younger APP23 mice lacking Abca1. In contrast, the levels of Aβ*56, as well as other low-molecular-mass Aβ oligomers, were unchanged among the groups. Overall, the results of the present study demonstrate that in aged APP23 mice memory deficits depend on Abca1 and are likely to be mediated by the amount of Aβ oligomers deposited in the hippocampus.
PMCID: PMC2695585  PMID: 19570031
ABCA1; Abca1-knockout mouse; Alzheimer's disease; amyloid β protein; apolipoprotein E (ApoE); APP transgenic mouse; Aβ, amyloid β protein; ABCA1, ATP-binding cassette transporter 1; AD, Alzheimer's disease; ApoE, apolipoprotein E; APP, amyloid precursor protein; CNS, central nervous system; DAPI, 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole; GFAP, glial fibrillary acidic protein; HDL, high-density lipoprotein; LXR, liver X receptor; MWM, Morris Water Maze; PBST, PBS containing 0.2% Triton X-100; Thio-S, thioflavin S; X-34, 1,4-bis(3-carboxy-4-hydroxyphenylethenyl)-benzene
24.  Abca1 Deficiency Affects Alzheimer's Disease-Like Phenotype in Human ApoE4 But Not in ApoE3-Targeted Replacement Mice 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2012;32(38):13125-13136.
ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) transporter regulates cholesterol efflux and is an essential mediator of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) formation. In amyloid precursor protein (APP) transgenic mice, Abca1 deficiency increased amyloid deposition in the brain paralleled by decreased levels of Apolipoprotein E (ApoE). The APOEε4 allele is the major genetic risk factor of sporadic Alzheimer's disease (AD). Here, we reveal the effect of Abca1 deficiency on phenotype in mice expressing human ApoE3 or ApoE4. We used APP/E3 and APP/E4 mice generated by crossing APP/PS1ΔE9 transgenic mice to human APOE3- and APOE4-targeted replacement mice and examined Abca1 gene dose effect on amyloid deposition and cognition. The results from two behavior tests demonstrate that lack of one copy of Abca1 significantly exacerbates memory deficits in APP/E4/Abca1−/+ but not in APP/E3/Abca1−/+ mice. The data for amyloid plaques and insoluble amyloid-β (Aβ) also show that Abca1 hemizygosity increases Aβ deposition only in APP/E4/Abca1−/+ but not in APP/E3/Abca1−/+ mice. Our in vivo microdialysis assays indicate that Abca1 deficiency significantly decreases Aβ clearance in ApoE4-expressing mice, while the effect of Abca1 on Aβ clearance in ApoE3-expressing mice was insignificant. In addition, we demonstrate that plasma HDL and Aβ42 levels in APP/E4/Abca1−/+ mice are significantly decreased, and there is a negative correlation between plasma HDL and amyloid plaques in brain, suggesting that plasma lipoproteins may be involved in Aβ clearance. Overall, our results prove that the presence of functional Abca1 significantly influences the phenotype of APP mice expressing human ApoE4 and further substantiate therapeutic approaches in AD based on ABCA1–APOE regulatory axis.
PMCID: PMC3646580  PMID: 22993429
25.  Genetic reductions of BACE1 and amyloid-β ameliorate impairment of conditioned taste aversion memory in 5XFAD Alzheimer model mice 
Although transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) recapitulate amyloid-β (Aβ)-related pathologies and cognitive impairments, previous studies have mainly evaluated their hippocampus-dependent memory dysfunctions using behavioral tasks such as the water maze and fear conditioning. However, multiple memory systems become impaired in AD as disease progresses, and it is important to test whether other forms of memory are affected in AD models. This study was designed to use conditioned taste aversion (CTA) and contextual fear conditioning paradigms to compare the phenotypes of hippocampus-independent and dependent memory functions, respectively, in 5XFAD APP/PS1 transgenic mice that harbor five familial AD (FAD) mutations. While both types of memory were significantly impaired in 5XFAD mice, the onset of CTA memory deficits (~9 months of age) was delayed compared to that of contextual memory deficits (~6 months of age). Furthermore, 5XFAD mice genetically engineered to have reduced levels of β-site APP-cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1+/−·5XFAD) exhibited improved CTA memory, which was equivalent to the performance of wild-type controls. Importantly, elevated levels of cerebral β-secretase-cleaved C-terminal fragment (C99) and Aβ peptides in 5XFAD mice were significantly reduced in BACE1+/−·5XFAD mice. Furthermore, Aβ deposition in the insular cortex and basolateral amygdala, two brain regions critically involved in CTA performance, was also reduced in BACE1+/−·5XFAD mice compared to 5XFAD mice. Our findings indicate that the CTA paradigm is useful for evaluating a hippocampus-independent form of memory defects in AD model mice, which is sensitive to rescue by partial reductions of the β-secretase BACE1 and consequently of cerebral Aβ.
PMCID: PMC2887274  PMID: 20092558
Alzheimer’s disease; β-secretase; knockout; implicit memory; APP transgenic

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