The effects of voluntary running on cerebrovascular morphology and spatial short-term memory in a mouse model of amyloidosis

Published: 08-18-2020 In Publication

Tags: VideoTrackLearning and Memory


Physical activity has been correlated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline, including that associated with vascular dementia, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD); recent literature suggests this may in part result from benefits to the cerebrovascular network. Using a transgenic (Tg) mouse model of AD, we evaluated the effect of running on cortical and hippocampal vascular morphology, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, amyloid plaque load, and spatial memory. TgCRND8 mice present with progressive amyloid pathology, advancing from the cortex to the hippocampus in a time-dependent manner. We postulated that the characteristic progression of pathology could lead to differential, time-dependent effects of physical activity on vascular morphology in these brain regions at 6 months of age. We used two-photon fluorescent microscopy and 3D vessel tracking to characterize vascular and amyloid pathology in sedentary TgCRND8 mice compared those who have a history of physical activity (unlimited access to a running wheel, from 3 to 6 months of age). In sedentary TgCRND8 mice, capillary density was found to be lower in the cortex and higher in the hippocampus compared to non-transgenic (nonTg) littermates. Capillary length, vessel branching, and non-capillary vessel tortuosity were also higher in the hippocampus of sedentary TgCRND8 compared to nonTg mice. Three months of voluntary running resulted in normalizing cortical and hippocampal microvascular morphology, with no significant difference between TgCRND8 and nonTg mice. The benefits of physical activity on cortical and hippocampal vasculature in 6-month old TgCRND8 mice were not paralleled by significant changes on parenchymal and cerebral amyloid pathology. Short-term spatial memory— as evaluated by performance in the Y-maze— was significantly improved in running compared to sedentary TgCRND8 mice. These results suggest that long-term voluntary running contributes to the maintenance of vascular morphology and spatial memory in TgCRND8 mice, even in the absence of an effect on amyloid pathology.


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