Senescence-accelerated OXYS rats are an experimental model of accelerated aging that was established from wistar stock via selection for susceptibility to cataractogenic effects of a galactose-rich diet and via subsequent inbreeding of highly susceptible rats. Currently, we have the 102nd generation of OXYS rats with spontaneously developing cataract and accelerated senescence syndrome, which means early development of a phenotype similar to human geriatric disorders, including accelerated brain aging. in recent years, our group found strong evidence that OXYS rats are a promising model for studies of the mechanisms of brain aging and neurodegenerative processes similar to those seen in Alzheimer disease (AD). The manifestation of behavioral alterations and learning and memory deficits develop since the fourth week of age, i.e., simultaneously with first signs of neurodegeneration detectable on magnetic resonance imaging and under a light microscope. in addition, impaired long-term potentiation has been demonstrated in OXYS rats by the age of 3 months. with age, neurodegenerative changes in the brain of OXYS rats become amplified. we have shown that this deterioration happens against the background of overproduction of amyloid precursor protein (AβPP), accumulation of β-amyloid (Aβ), and hyperphosphorylation of the tau protein in the hippocampus and cortex. The development of AMDlike retinopathy in OXYS rats is also accompanied by increased accumulation of Aβ in the retina. These published data suggest that the OXYS strain may serve as a spontaneous rat model of AD-like pathology and could help to decipher the pathogenesis of AD.
Cellular and organismal aging are driven in part by the MTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) pathway and rapamycin extends life span in C elegans, Drosophila and mice. Herein, we investigated effects of rapamycin on brain aging in OXYS rats. Previously we found, in OXYS rats, an early development of age-associated pathological phenotypes similar to several geriatric disorders in humans, including cerebral dysfunctions. Behavioral alterations as well as learning and memory deficits develop by 3 months. Here we show that rapamycin treatment (0.1 or 0.5 mg/kg as a food mixture daily from the age of 1.5 to 3.5 months) decreased anxiety and improved locomotor and exploratory behavior in OXYS rats. In untreated OXYS rats, MRI revealed an increase of the area of hippocampus, substantial hydrocephalus and 2-fold increased area of the lateral ventricles. Rapamycin treatment prevented these abnormalities, erasing the difference between OXYS and Wistar rats (used as control). All untreated OXYS rats showed signs of neurodegeneration, manifested by loci of demyelination. Rapamycin decreased the percentage of animals with demyelination and the number of loci. Levels of Tau and phospho-Tau (T181) were increased in OXYS rats (compared with Wistar). Rapamycin significantly decreased Tau and inhibited its phosphorylation in the hippocampus of OXYS and Wistar rats. Importantly, rapamycin treatment caused a compensatory increase in levels of S6 and correspondingly levels of phospo-S6 in the frontal cortex, indicating that some downstream events were compensatory preserved, explaining the lack of toxicity. We conclude that rapamycin in low chronic doses can suppress brain aging.
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