Transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer's disease

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2000 Jun;908:260-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2000.tb06653.x.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology is characterized by A beta peptide-containing plaques, neurofibrillary tangles consisting of hyperphosphorylated tau, extensive neuritic degeneration, and distinct neuron loss. We generated several transgenic mouse lines expressing the human amyloid precursor protein (APP751) containing the AD-linked KM670/671NL double mutation (Swedish mutation) under the control of a neuron-specific Thy-1 promoter fragment. In the best APP-expressing line (APP23), compact A beta deposits can be detected at 6 months of age. These plaques dramatically increase with age, are mostly Congo Red positive, and accumulate typical plaque-associated proteins such as heparansulfate proteoglycan and apolipoprotein E. Activated astrocytes and microglia indicative of inflammatory processes reminiscent of AD accumulate around the deposits. Furthermore, plaques are surrounded by enlarged dystrophic neurites as visualized by neurofilament or Holmes-Luxol staining. Strong staining for acetylcholinesterase activity is found throughout the plaques and is accompanied by local distortion of the cholinergic fiber network. All congophilic plaques contain hyperphosphorylated tau reminiscent of early tau pathology. Modern stereologic methods demonstrate a significant loss of neurons in the hippocampal CA1 region, correlating with an increasing A beta plaque load. Interestingly, APP23 mice develop cerebral amyloid angiopathy in addition to amyloid plaques even though the APP transgene is only expressed in neurons. Crossbreeding of APP23 mice with transgenic mice carrying AD-linked presenilin mutations but not wild-type presenilin resulted in enhanced formation of pathology. In conclusion, our APP transgenic mice present many pathologic features, similar to those observed in AD and therefore offer excellent tools for studying the contribution of A beta to AD pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease* / immunology
  • Alzheimer Disease* / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / genetics
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Gliosis
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Degeneration
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • tau Proteins