Dementia Awareness Week: how useful are mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease?

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Guest blog post by Dr Scott Webster, University of Kentucky, USA

Can Alzheimer’s disease memory problems be studied in a mouse model? A study published today in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy attempts to answer this question by performing a comprehensive characterization of age-related behavioral changes in an important mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.

A variety of behavioral tasks that measure motor performance, anxiety-like behavior, and cognitive ability were determined through the lifespan of the mice, ranging from young (7 month old), middle age (11 and 15 months old), and old (24 months old) mice. There were no impairments in motor function or anxiety-like behavior in the mice at any age tested. However, the mice developed Alzheimer-like memory problems as they aged.

This study is important because it is the first study to provide such an in depth characterization of this Alzheimer’s mouse model, and will be useful to other researchers who want to study mechanisms of memory impairment or test potential new drugs in a mouse model of disease.

 

From left to right: Jesse Matherly, Danielle Goulding, Adam Bachstetter, Linda Van Eldik, Scott Webster, Machi Kaneko, Bin Xing, Edgardo Dimayuga

 

The research was led by Linda Van Eldik, director of the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, with Scott Webster, and Adam Bachstetter. Dr. Van Eldik is recognized as one of the early proponents of the neuroinflammatory hypothesis in CNS disorders, and is a leader in the field of neuroinflammation-related neurodegeneration. Her lab is actively pursuing the mechanisms by which aberrant glial-neuronal interactions contribute to and influence neurodegenerative processes during aging. The overall goal is to utilize knowledge of potentially “druggable” pathways to develop new therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury. So far, the lab has met with success in several animal models of CNS disorders.

The Sanders-Brown Center on Aging is dedicated to improving the health of elderly individuals through research dedicated to understanding the aging process and age-related brain diseases. The center also promotes education, outreach, and clinical programs all designed to promote healthy brain aging.

In this behavioral characterization study of a mouse model of AD, we utilized the new state of the art University of Kentucky Rodent Behavior Core (RBC) directed by Dr Bruce O’Hara for many of the behavioral experiments. It is wonderful to have a resource like the RBC available here at the University, which provides a vital step in translating our basic scientific findings into future clinical applications.

This week is the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Awareness Week. Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy joined the discussion and you can join in too #talkdementia.

For more information on Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, or to submit a manuscript, please visit the journal website or contact the Editorial Office. To keep up to date with the latest articles published in the journal, sign up for Article Alerts and follow us on twitter.