Subclinical vitamin C deficiency is widespread in many populations, but its role in both Alzheimer's disease and normal aging is understudied. In the present study, we decreased brain vitamin C in the APPSWE/PSEN1deltaE9 mouse model of Alzheimer's disease by crossing APP/PSEN1(+) bigenic mice with SVCT2(+/-) heterozygous knockout mice, which have lower numbers of the sodium-dependent vitamin C transporter required for neuronal vitamin C transport. SVCT2(+/-) mice performed less well on the rotarod task at both 5 and 12 months of age compared to littermates. SVCT2(+/-) and APP/PSEN1(+) mice and the combination genotype SVCT2(+/-)APP/PSEN1(+) were also impaired on multiple tests of cognitive ability (olfactory memory task, Y-maze alternation, conditioned fear, Morris water maze). In younger mice, both low vitamin C (SVCT2(+/-)) and APP/PSEN1 mutations increased brain cortex oxidative stress (malondialdehyde, protein carbonyls, F2-isoprostanes) and decreased total glutathione compared to wild-type controls. SVCT2(+/-) mice also had increased amounts of both soluble and insoluble Aβ1-42 and a higher Aβ1-42/1-40 ratio. By 14 months of age, oxidative stress levels were similar among groups, but there were more amyloid-β plaque deposits in both hippocampus and cortex of SVCT2(+/-)APP/PSEN1(+) mice compared to APP/PSEN1(+) mice with normal brain vitamin C. These data suggest that even moderate intracellular vitamin C deficiency plays an important role in accelerating amyloid pathogenesis, particularly during early stages of disease development, and that these effects are likely modulated by oxidative stress pathways.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Vitamin C; amyloid; cognition; mouse models; oxidative stress.