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1.  Presenilin transgenic mice as models of Alzheimer’s disease 
Brain structure & function  2009;214(0):127-143.
Mutations in presenilin-1 (PS1) and presenilin-2 (PS2) cause familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD). Presenilins influence multiple molecular pathways and are best known for their role in the γ-secretase cleavage of type I transmembrane proteins including the amyloid precursor protein (APP). PS1 and PS2 FAD mutant transgenic mice have been generated using a variety of promoters. PS1-associated FAD mutations have also been knocked into the endogenous mouse gene. PS FAD mutant mice consistently show elevations of Aβ42 with little if any effect on Aβ40. When crossed with plaque forming APP FAD mutant lines, the PS1 FAD mutants cause earlier and more extensive plaque deposition. Although single transgenic PS1 or PS2 mice do not form plaques, they exhibit a number of pathological features including age-related neuronal and synaptic loss as well as vascular pathology. They also exhibit increased susceptibility to excitotoxic injury most likely on the basis of exaggerated calcium release from the endoplasmic reticulum. Electrophysiologically long-term potentiation in the hippocampus is increased in young PS1 FAD mutant mice but this effect appears to be lost with aging. In most studies neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus is also impaired by PS1 FAD mutants. Mice in which PS1 has been conditionally knocked out in adult forebrain on a PS2 null background (PS1/2 cDKO) develop a striking neurodegeneration that mimics AD neuropathology in being associated with neuronal and synaptic loss, astrogliosis and hyperphosphorylation of tau, although it is not accompanied by plaque deposits. The relevance of PS transgenic mice as models of AD is discussed.
PMCID: PMC3527905  PMID: 19921519
Alzheimer’s disease; Familial Alzheimer’s disease; Hippocampal neurogenesis; Presenilin-1; Presenilin-2; Transgenic mice
2.  Dendritic vulnerability in neurodegenerative disease: insights from analyses of cortical pyramidal neurons in transgenic mouse models 
Brain structure & function  2010;214(2-3):181-199.
In neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, neuronal dendrites and dendritic spines undergo significant pathological changes. Because of the determinant role of these highly dynamic structures in signaling by individual neurons and ultimately in the functionality of neuronal networks that mediate cognitive functions, a detailed understanding of these changes is of paramount importance. Mutant murine models, such as the Tg2576 APP mutant mouse and the rTg4510 tau mutant mouse have been developed to provide insight into pathogenesis involving the abnormal production and aggregation of amyloid and tau proteins, because of the key role that these proteins play in neurodegenerative disease. This review showcases the multidimensional approach taken by our collaborative group to increase understanding of pathological mechanisms in neurodegenerative disease using these mouse models. This approach includes analyses of empirical 3D morphological and electrophysiological data acquired from frontal cortical pyramidal neurons using confocal laser scanning microscopy and whole-cell patch-clamp recording techniques, combined with computational modeling methodologies. These collaborative studies are designed to shed insight on the repercussions of dystrophic changes in neocortical neurons, define the cellular phenotype of differential neuronal vulnerability in relevant models of neurodegenerative disease, and provide a basis upon which to develop meaningful therapeutic strategies aimed at preventing, reversing, or compensating for neurodegenerative changes in dementia.
PMCID: PMC3045830  PMID: 20177698
Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid; Computational modeling; Dendritic spine; Tau; Whole-cell patch-clamp
3.  Hippocampal interneuron loss in an APP/PS1 double mutant mouse and in Alzheimer’s disease 
Brain structure & function  2010;214(2-3):145-160.
Hippocampal atrophy and neuron loss are commonly found in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the underlying molecular mechanisms and the fate in the AD hippocampus of subpopulations of interneurons that express the calcium-binding proteins parvalbumin (PV) and calretinin (CR) has not yet been properly assessed. Using quantitative stereologic methods, we analyzed the regional pattern of age-related loss of PV- and CR-immunoreactive (ir) neurons in the hippocampus of mice that carry M233T/L235P knocked-in mutations in presenilin-1 (PS1) and overexpress a mutated human beta-amyloid precursor protein (APP), namely, the APPSL/PS1 KI mice, as well as in APPSL mice and PS1 KI mice. We found a loss of PV-ir neurons (40–50%) in the CA1-2, and a loss of CR-ir neurons (37–52%) in the dentate gyrus and hilus of APPSL/PS1 KI mice. Interestingly, comparable PV- and CR-ir neuron losses were observed in the dentate gyrus of postmortem brain specimens obtained from patients with AD. The loss of these interneurons in AD may have substantial functional repercussions on local inhibitory processes in the hippocampus.
PMCID: PMC3038332  PMID: 20213270
Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid precursor protein; Calcium-binding proteins; Hippocampus; Presenilin-1; Stereology
4.  Changes in dendritic complexity and spine morphology in transgenic mice expressing human wild-type tau 
Brain structure & function  2010;214(2-3):161-179.
Neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) are composed of insoluble, hyperphosphorylated aggregates of the microtubule-associated protein tau and are present in various neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD). To investigate how tau affects neuronal function during NFT formation and subsequent neurodegeneration, we examined the morphology, spine density, spine type, and spine volume of layer III pyramidal neurons from the prefrontal cortex of mice expressing wild-type human tau (htau) over time. There were no significant alterations in apical dendritic arbor length in 3-, 6-, and 12-month-old htau mice; however, 12-month-old mice exhibited more complex arborization patterns. In addition, we observed a shift in spine morphology with fewer mushroom and more thin spines in both apical and basal dendrites as a function of htau accumulation. Interestingly, there was an overall decrease in volume of spines from 3 to 12 months. However, the volume of mushroom spines decreased from 3 to 6 months and increased from 6 to 12 months. This increase in complexity and branching in 12-month-old mice and the increase of volume of mushroom spines may represent compensatory mechanisms in the remaining intact neurons. As such, the accumulation of phosphorylated tau over time may contribute to the cognitive decline observed in AD by affecting neuronal structure and synaptic properties. Such alterations in dendrites and spines may result in the deterioration of neuronal function observed in AD, and provide a morphologic substrate for the relationship between synaptic integrity and cognitive decline.
PMCID: PMC3032082  PMID: 20213269
Alzheimer’s disease; Neurofibrillary tangles; Tau; Transgenic mice; Dendrites; Spines
5.  Norepinephrinergic Afferents and Cytology of the Macaque Monkey Midline, Mediodorsal, and Intralaminar Thalamic Nuclei 
Brain structure & function  2008;212(6):465-479.
The midline and intralaminar thalamic nuclei (MITN), locus coeruleus (LC) and cingulate cortex contain nociceptive neurons. The MITN that project to cingulate cortex have a prominent innervation by norepinephrinergic axons primarily originating from the LC. The hypothesis explored in this study is that MITN neurons that project to cingulate cortex receive a disproportionately high LC input that may modulate nociceptive afferent flow into the forebrain. Ten cynomolgus monkeys were evaluated for dopamine-β hydroxylase (DBH) immunohistochemistry and, nuclei with moderate or high DBH activity were analyzed for intermediate neurofilament proteins, calbindin, and calretinin. Sections of all but DBH were thionin counterstained to assure precise localization in the mediodorsal and MITN and cytoarchitecture was analyzed with neuron-specific nuclear binding protein. Moderate-high levels of DBH-immunoreactive (ir) axons were generally associated with high densities of CB-ir and CR-ir neurons and low levels of neurofilament proteins. The paraventricular, superior centrolateral, limitans and central nuclei had relatively high and evenly distributed DBH, the magnocellular mediodorsal and paracentral nuclei had moderate DBH-ir, and other nuclei had an even and low level of activity. Some nuclei also have heterogeneities in DBH-ir that raised questions of functional segregation. The anterior multiformis part of the mediodorsal nucleus but not middle and caudal levels had high DBH activity. The posterior parafascicular nucleus (Pf) was heterogeneous with the lateral part having little DBH activity, while its medial division had most DBH-ir axons and its multiformis part had only a small number. These findings suggest that the LC may regulate nociceptive processing in the thalamus. The well established role of cingulate cortex in premotor functions and the projections of Pf and other MITN to the limbic striatum suggests a specific role in mediating motor outflow for the LC-innervated nuclei of the MITN.
PMCID: PMC2649766  PMID: 18317800
dopamine-β hydroxylase; cingulate cortex; thalamus; locus coeruleus; stress; pain

Results 1-5 (5)