Spatial reversal learning defect coincides with hypersynchronous telencephalic BOLD functional connectivity in APPNL-F/NL-F knock-in mice
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
Amyloid pathology occurs early in Alzheimer's disease (AD), and has therefore been the focus of numerous studies. Transgenic mouse models have been instrumental to study amyloidosis, but observations might have been confounded by APP-overexpression artifacts. The current study investigated early functional defects in an APP knock-in mouse model, which allows assessing the effects of pathological amyloid-beta (Aβ) without interference of APP-artifacts. Female APPNL/NL knock-in mice of 3 and 7 months old were compared to age-matched APPNL-F/NL-F mice with increased Aβ42/40 ratio and initial Aβ-plaque deposition around 6 months of age. Spatial learning was examined using a Morris water maze protocol consisting of acquisition and reversal trials interleaved with reference memory tests. Functional connectivity (FC) of brain networks was assessed using resting-state functional MRI (rsfMRI). The Morris water maze data revealed that 3 months old APPNL-F/NL-F mice were unable to reach the same reference memory proficiency as APPNL/NL mice after reversal training. This cognitive defect in 3-month-old APPNL-F/NL-F mice coincided with hypersynchronous FC of the hippocampal, cingulate, caudate-putamen, and default-mode-like networks. The occurrence of these defects in APPNL-F/NL-F mice demonstrates that cognitive flexibility and synchronicity of telencephalic activity are specifically altered by early Aβ pathology without changes in APP neurochemistry.