Hippocampal network hyperexcitability is considered an early indicator of Alzheimer's disease (AD) memory impairment. Some AD mouse models exhibit similar network phenotypes. In this study we focused on dentate gyrus (DG) granule cell spontaneous and evoked properties in 9-month-old Tg2576 mice that model AD amyloidosis and cognitive deficits. Using whole-cell patch-clamp recordings, we found that Tg2576 DG granule cells exhibited spontaneous EPSCs that were higher in frequency but not amplitude compared with wild-type mice, suggesting hyperactivity of DG granule cells via a presynaptic mechanism. Further support of a presynaptic mechanism was revealed by increased I-O relationships and probability of release in Tg2576 DG granule cells. Since we and others have shown that activation of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) axis improves hippocampal cognition in mouse models for AD as well as benefitting memory performance in some humans with early AD, we investigated how PPARγ agonism affected synaptic activity in Tg2576 DG. We found that PPARγ agonism normalized the I-O relationship of evoked EPSCs, frequency of spontaneous EPSCs, and probability of release that, in turn, correlated with selective expression of DG proteins essential for presynaptic SNARE function that are altered in patients with AD. These findings provide evidence that DG principal cells may contribute to early AD hippocampal network hyperexcitability via a presynaptic mechanism, and that hippocampal cognitive enhancement via PPARγ activation occurs through regulation of presynaptic vesicular proteins critical for proper glutamatergic neurotransmitter release, synaptic transmission, and short-term plasticity.
Keywords: Alzheimer's; SNARE proteins; animal model; mass spectrometry; patch clamp; synaptic plasticity.