Effects of environmental enrichment on exploration, anxiety, and memory in female TgCRND8 Alzheimer mice

Nicole Görtz, Lars Lewejohann, Manuel Tomm, Oliver Ambrée, Kathy Keyvani, Werner Paulus, Norbert Sachser
Behavioural Brain Research 2008 August 5, 191 (1): 43-8
After we could recently demonstrate a beneficial effect of environmental enrichment on AD-like brain pathology in female TgCRND8 mice [Ambrée O, Leimer U, Herring A, Görtz N, Sachser N, Heneka MT, et al. Reduction of amyloid angiopathy and Abeta plaque burden after enriched housing in TgCRND8 mice: involvement of multiple pathways. Am J Pathol 2006;169:544-52] the present study focuses on the behavioural effects of environmental enrichment with special emphasis on learning and memory performance in this AD model. In the first experiment spontaneous exploration, locomotor activity and anxiety-related behaviour were assessed as the performance in learning tasks can be biased substantially by exploratory behavioural traits. In the second experiment spatial memory in the Barnes maze test and object recognition memory were examined. Regarding exploratory behaviour transgenic mice from standard housing condition were statistically indistinguishable from wild-type controls. Enrichment had comparable effects in both genotypes indicated by higher levels of exploration and locomotor activity. In transgenic mice the elevated plus-maze revealed less anxiety-related behaviour due to enrichment in contrast to wild-type mice that statistically did not differ in anxiety-related behaviour. Concerning learning and memory performance, cognitive deficits of standard housed transgenic mice could be demonstrated in both learning tasks. Surprisingly, in both housing conditions a significantly higher number of transgenic mice refused to explore any objects compared to wild-type mice. Furthermore, the Barnes maze test revealed deficits of the transgenic mice in spatial memory compared to wild-type mice whereas no effect of environmental enrichment was detectable. Thus environmental enrichment increased exploratory behaviour and decreased anxiety-related behaviour but could not clearly ameliorate deficits in learning and memory performance of TgCRND8 mice.

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