Astrocytes are critical for healthy brain function. In Alzheimer's disease, astrocytes become reactive, which affects their signaling properties. Here, we measured spontaneous calcium transients ex vivo in hippocampal astrocytes in brain slices containing the dentate gyrus of 6- (6M) and 9-month-old (9M) APPswe/PSEN1dE9 (APP/PS1) mice. We investigated the frequency and duration of calcium transients in relation to aging, amyloid-β (Aβ) pathology, and the proximity of the astrocyte to Aβ plaques. The 6M APP/PS1 astrocytes showed no change in spontaneous calcium-transient properties compared to wild-type (WT) astrocytes. 9M APP/PS1 astrocytes, however, showed more hyperactivity compared to WT, characterized by increased spontaneous calcium transients that were longer in duration. Our data also revealed an effect of aging, as 9M astrocytes overall showed an increase in calcium activity compared to 6M astrocytes. Subsequent calcium-wave analysis showed an increase in sequential calcium transients (i.e., calcium waves) in 9M astrocytes, suggesting increased network activity ex vivo. Further analysis using null models revealed that this network effect is caused by chance, due to the increased number of spontaneous transients. Our findings show that alterations in calcium signaling in individual hippocampal astrocytes of APP/PS1 mice are subject to both aging and Aβ pathology but these do not lead to a change in astrocyte network activity. These alterations in calcium dynamics of astrocytes may help to understand changes in neuronal physiology leading to cognitive decline and ultimately dementia.
Keywords: APP/PS1; Alzheimer’s disease; RRID:MMRRC_016992-MU; RRID:SCR_001622; RRID:SCR_002798; RRID:SCR_013726; aging; astrocytes; calcium imaging; calcium waves; null models.
© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Neuroscience Research published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.