[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Zoopharmacognosy denotes a constellation of learned ingestive responses that promote healing and survival of infected or poisoned animals. A similar self-medication phenomenon was reported in diseased laboratory rodents. In particular, a series of studies revealed that autoimmune MRL/lpr mice readily consume solutions paired or laced with cyclophosphamide (CY), an immunosuppressive drug that prevents inflammatory damage to internal organs. However, due to design limitations, it could not be elucidated whether such a response reflects the learned therapeutic effect of CY, or a deficit in sensory input. We presently assess the behavioural effects of prolonged consumption of CY-laced, 16% sucrose solution in a continuous choice paradigm, with tap water available ad lib. Contrary to overall expectation, MRL/lpr mice did not increase their intake of CY with disease progression. Moreover, they ingested lower doses of CY and preferred less CY-laced sucrose solution than age-matched controls. The results obtained could not confirm zoopharmacognosy in diseased MRL/lpr mice, likely due to impaired responsiveness to palatable stimulation, or attenuated survival mechanisms after prolonged inbreeding in captivity. However, by revealing the effectiveness of unrestricted drinking of drug-laced sucrose solution on behavior and immunity, the current study supports broader use of such an administration route in behavioural studies sensitive to external stressors.
PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(6):e100684. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: Immune system activation is frequently reported in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, it remains unknown whether this is a cause, a consequence, or an epiphenomenon of brain degeneration. Objective: The present study examines whether immunological abnormalities occur in a well-established murine AD model and if so, how they relate temporally to behavioral deficits and neuropathology. Methods: A broad battery of tests was employed to assess behavioral performance and autoimmune/inflammatory markers in 3xTg-AD (AD) mice and wild type controls from 1.5 to 12 months of age. Results: Aged AD mice displayed severe manifestations of systemic autoimmune/inflammatory disease, as evidenced by splenomegaly, hepatomegaly, elevated serum levels of anti-nuclear/anti-dsDNA antibodies, low hematocrit, and increased number of double-negative T splenocytes. However, anxiety-related behavior and altered spleen function were evident as early as 2 months of age, thus preceding typical AD-like brain pathology. Moreover, AD mice showed altered olfaction and impaired "cognitive" flexibility in the first six months of life, suggesting mild cognitive impairment-like manifestations before general learning/memory impairments emerged at older age. Interestingly, all of these features were present in 3xTg-AD mice prior to significant amyloid-β or tau pathology. Conclusion: The results indicate that behavioral deficits in AD mice develop in parallel with systemic autoimmune/inflammatory disease. These changes antedate AD-like neuropathology, thus supporting a causal link between autoimmunity and aberrant behavior. Consequently, 3xTg-AD mice may be a useful model in elucidating the role of immune system in the etiology of AD.
Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD 10/2013; · 4.17 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aged canine (dog) is an excellent model for investigating the neurobiological changes that underlie cognitive impairment and neurodegeneration in humans, as canines and humans undergo similar pathological and behavioral changes with aging. Recent evidence indicates that a combination of environmental enrichment and antioxidant-fortified diet can be used to reduce the rate of age-dependent neuropathology and cognitive decline in aged dogs, although the mechanisms underlying these changes have not been established. We examined the hypothesis that an increase in levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is one of the factors underlying improvements in learning and memory. Old, cognitively impaired animals that did not receive any treatment showed a significant decrease in BDNF mRNA in the temporal cortex when compared with the young group. Animals receiving either an antioxidant diet or environmental enrichment displayed intermediate levels of BDNF mRNA. However, dogs receiving both an antioxidant diet and environmental enrichment showed increased levels of BDNF mRNA when compared with untreated aged dogs, approaching levels measured in young animals. BDNF receptor TrkB mRNA levels did not differ between groups. BDNF mRNA levels were positively correlated with improved cognitive performance and inversely correlated with cortical Aβ((1-42)) and Aβ((1-40)) levels. These findings suggest that environmental enrichment and antioxidant diet interact to maintain brain levels of BDNF, which may lead to improved cognitive performance. This is the first demonstration in a higher animal that nonpharmacological changes in lifestyle in advanced age can upregulate BDNF to levels approaching those in the young brain.
Neurobiology of aging 05/2010; 33(3):546-54. · 5.94 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 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-beta (A beta) contributes to BDNF downregulation in AD, but the specific A beta 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 A beta overproduction, and in a genetic mouse model of Down syndrome. Two of the three A beta transgenic strains (APP(NLh) 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 APP(NLh) and TgCRND8 mice expressed high A beta(42)/A beta(40) ratios and larger SDS-stable A beta oligomers (approximately 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, A beta(42)/A beta(40), and severity of BDNF decrease. These data show that the amount and species of A beta vary among transgenic mouse models of AD and are negatively correlated with BDNF levels. These findings also suggest that the effect of A beta on decreased BDNF expression is specific to the aggregation state of A beta and is dependent on large oligomers.
Journal of Neuroscience 08/2009; 29(29):9321-9. · 6.91 Impact Factor