Induced LC degeneration in APP/PS1 transgenic mice accelerates early cerebral amyloidosis and cognitive deficits

Neurochem Int. 2010 Nov;57(4):375-82. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2010.02.001. Epub 2010 Feb 6.


Degeneration of locus ceruleus neurons and subsequent reduction of norepinephrine concentration in locus ceruleus projection areas represent an early pathological indicator of Alzheimer's disease. In order to model the pathology of the human disease and to study the effects of norepinephrine-depletion on amyloid precursor protein processing, behaviour, and neuroinflammation, locus ceruleus degeneration was induced in mice coexpressing the swedish mutant of the amyloid precursor protein and the presenilin 1 DeltaExon 9 mutant (APP/PS1) using the neurotoxin N-(2-chloroethyl)-N-ethyl-bromo-benzylamine (dsp4) starting treatment at 3 months of age. Norepinephrine transporter immunolabelling demonstrated severe loss of locus ceruleus neurons and loss of cortical norepinephrine transporter starting as early as 4.5 months of age and aggravating over time. Of note, dsp4-treated transgenic mice showed elevated amyloid beta levels and impaired spatial memory performance at 6.5 months of age compared to control-treated APP/PS1 transgenic mice, indicating an accelerating effect on cerebral amyloidosis and cognitive deficits. Likewise, norepinephrine-depletion increased neuroinflammation compared to transgenic controls as verified by macrophage inflammatory protein-1alpha and -1beta gene expression analysis. Exploratory activity and memory retention was compromised by age in APP/PS1 transgenic mice and further aggravated by induced noradrenergic deficiency. In contrast, novel object recognition was not influenced by norepinephrine deficiency, but by the APP/PS1 transgene at 12 months. Overall, our data indicate that early loss of noradrenergic innervation promotes amyloid deposition and modulates the activation state of inflammatory cells. This in turn could have had impact on the acceleration of cognitive deficits observed over time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / drug effects
  • Aging / physiology
  • Aging / psychology
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / genetics*
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / physiology*
  • Amyloidosis / genetics
  • Amyloidosis / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Benzylamines / pharmacology
  • Cognition Disorders / genetics
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology*
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Locus Coeruleus / drug effects
  • Locus Coeruleus / pathology*
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Degeneration / genetics*
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology*
  • Neurotransmitter Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism
  • Presenilin-1 / genetics*
  • Presenilin-1 / physiology*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology


  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Benzylamines
  • Neurotransmitter Uptake Inhibitors
  • Presenilin-1
  • RNA, Messenger
  • DSP 4
  • Norepinephrine