Selective dentate gyrus disruption causes memory impairment at the early stage of experimental multiple sclerosis

Brain Behav Immun. 2017 Feb;60:240-254. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2016.11.010. Epub 2016 Nov 12.


Memory impairment is an early and disabling manifestation of multiple sclerosis whose anatomical and biological substrates are still poorly understood. We thus investigated whether memory impairment encountered at the early stage of the disease could be explained by a differential vulnerability of particular hippocampal subfields. By using experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a mouse model of multiple sclerosis, we identified that early memory impairment was associated with selective alteration of the dentate gyrus as pinpointed in vivo with diffusion-tensor-imaging (DTI). Neuromorphometric analyses and electrophysiological recordings confirmed dendritic degeneration, alteration in glutamatergic synaptic transmission and impaired long-term synaptic potentiation selectively in the dentate gyrus, but not in CA1, together with a more severe pattern of microglial activation in this subfield. Systemic injections of the microglial inhibitor minocycline prevented DTI, morphological, electrophysiological and behavioral impairments in EAE-mice. Furthermore, daily infusions of minocycline specifically within the dentate gyrus were sufficient to prevent memory impairment in EAE-mice while infusions of minocycline within CA1 were inefficient. We conclude that early memory impairment in EAE is due to a selective disruption of the dentate gyrus associated with microglia activation. These results open new pathophysiological, imaging, and therapeutic perspectives for memory impairment in multiple sclerosis.

Keywords: Dentate gyrus; Diffusion tensor imaging; Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; Hippocampus; Memory impairment; Microglia; Multiple sclerosis; Synaptic plasticity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dentate Gyrus / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Memory Disorders / metabolism*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology