Soluble Aβ levels correlate with cognitive deficits in the 12-month-old APPswe/PS1dE9 mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

Wei Zhang, Jian Hao, Rui Liu, Zhuo Zhang, Gesheng Lei, Changjun Su, Jianting Miao, Zhuyi Li
Behavioural Brain Research 2011 September 23, 222 (2): 342-50
Amyloid-beta peptide (Aβ) is believed to be central in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) characterized by cognitive deficits. However, it remains uncertain which form(s) of Aβ pathology is responsible for the cognitive deficits in AD. In the present study, the cognitive deficits and the profiles of Aβ pathology were characterized in the 12-month-old APPswe/PS1dE9 double transgenic mice, and their correlations were examined. Compared with non-transgenic littermates, the middle-aged APPswe/PS1dE9 mice exhibited spatial learning and memory deficits in the water maze test and long-term contextual memory deficits in the step-down passive avoidance test. Among the middle-aged APPswe/PS1dE9 mice, hippocampal soluble Aβ1-40 and Aβ1-42 levels were highly correlated with spatial learning deficits and long-term contextual memory deficits, as well as cortical and hippocampal soluble Aβ1-40 and Aβ1-42 levels were strongly correlated with spatial memory deficits. By contrast, no significant correlations were observed between three measures of cognitive functions and amyloid plaque burden (total Aβ plaque load and fibrillar Aβ plaque load), total Aβ levels (Aβ1-40 and Aβ1-42), as well as insoluble Aβ levels (Aβ1-40 and Aβ1-42). Stepwise multiple regression analysis identified hippocampal soluble Aβ1-40 and Aβ1-42 levels as independent factors for predicting the spatial learning deficits and the long-term contextual memory deficits, as well as hippocampal and cortical soluble Aβ1-40 and Aβ1-42 levels as independent factors for predicting the spatial memory deficits in transgenic mice. These results demonstrate that cognitive deficits are highly related to the levels of soluble Aβ in middle-aged APPswe/PS1dE9 mice, in which soluble Aβ levels are only a tiny fraction of the amount of total Aβ levels. Consequently, our findings provide further evidence that soluble Aβ might primarily contribute to cognitive deficits in AD, suggesting that reducing the levels of soluble Aβ species would be a therapeutic intervention for AD patients even with large deposits of aggregated, insoluble Aβ.

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