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.
The amyloid cascade hypothesis posits that deposition of the amyloid β (Aβ) peptide in the brain is a key event in the initiation of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Nonetheless, it now seems increasingly unlikely that amyloid toxicity is the cause of sporadic AD, which leads to cognitive decline. Here, using accelerated-senescence nontransgenic OXYS rats, we confirmed that aggregation of Aβ is a later event in AD-like pathology. We showed that an age-dependent increase in the levels of Aβ1–42 and extracellular Aβ deposits in the brain of OXYS rats occur later than do synaptic losses, neuronal cell death, mitochondrial structural abnormalities, and hyperphosphorylation of the tau protein. We identified the variants of the genes that are strongly associated with the risk of either late-onset or early-onset AD, including App, Apoe4, Bace1, Psen1, Psen2, and Picalm. We found that in OXYS rats nonsynonymous SNPs were located only in the genes Casp3 and Sorl1. Thus, we present proof that OXYS rats may be a model of sporadic AD. It is possible that multiple age-associated pathological processes may precede the toxic amyloid accumulation, which in turn triggers the final stage of the sporadic form of AD and becomes a hallmark event of the disease.
Mitochondrial aberrations are observed in human Alzheimer's disease (AD) and in medical conditions that increase the risk of this disorder, suggesting that mitochondrial dysfunction may contribute to pathophysiology of AD. Here, using OXYS rats that simulate key characteristics of sporadic AD, we set out to determine the role of mitochondria in the pathophysiology of this disorder. OXYS rats were treated with a mitochondria-targeted antioxidant SkQ1 from age 12 to 18 months, that is, during active progression of AD-like pathology in these animals. Dietary supplementation with SkQ1 caused this compound to accumulate in various brain regions, and it was localized mostly to neuronal mitochondria. Via improvement of structural and functional state of mitochondria, treatment with SkQ1 alleviated the structural neurodegenerative alterations, prevented the neuronal loss and synaptic damage, increased the levels of synaptic proteins, enhanced neurotrophic supply, and decreased amyloid-β1-42 protein levels and tau hyperphosphorylation in the hippocampus of OXYS rats, resulting in improvement of the learning ability and memory. Collectively, these data support that mitochondrial dysfunction may play a key role in the pathophysiology of AD and that therapies with target mitochondria are potent to normalize a wide range of cellular signaling processes and therefore slow the progression of AD.
Translational research on Alzheimer's disease (AD) has often focused on reducing the high cerebral levels of amyloid-β (Aβ) as a key characteristic of AD pathogenesis. There is, however, a growing body of evidence that synaptic dysfunction may be crucial for the development of the most common (sporadic) form of AD. The applicability of melatonin (mainly produced by the pineal gland) to the treatment of AD is actively evaluated, but usually, such studies are based on animal models of early-onset AD, which is responsible for only ~5% of AD cases. We have shown previously that in OXYS rats (an established model of sporadic AD), accumulation of toxic forms of Aβ in the brain occurs later than does the development of signs of neurodegenerative changes and synaptic failure. In this regard, recently, we uncovered beneficial neuroprotective effects of melatonin (prophylactic dietary supplementation) in OXYS rats. Our aim here was to evaluate, starting at the age of active progression of AD-like pathology in OXYS rats, the effects of long-term oral administration of melatonin on the structure of synapses and on neuronal and glial cells of the hippocampus. Melatonin significantly increased hippocampal synaptic density and the number of excitatory synapses, decreased the number of inhibitory synapses, and upregulated pre- and postsynaptic proteins (synapsin I and PSD-95, respectively). Furthermore, melatonin improved the ultrastructure of neuronal and glial cells and reduced glial density. Based on our past and present results, the repair of neuroplasticity by melatonin is a promising strategy against AD.
Melatonin synthesis is disordered in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). To determine the role of melatonin in the pathogenesis of AD, suitable animal models are needed. The OXYS rats are an experimental model of accelerated senescence that has also been proposed as a spontaneous rat model of AD-like pathology. In the present study, we demonstrate that disturbances in melatonin secretion occur in OXYS rats at 4 months of age. These disturbances occur simultaneously with manifestation of behavioral abnormalities against the background of neurodegeneration and alterations in hormonal status but before the signs of amyloid-β accumulation. We examined whether oral administration of melatonin could normalize the melatonin secretion and have beneficial effects on OXYS rats before progression to AD-like pathology. The results showed that melatonin treatment restored melatonin secretion in the pineal gland of OXYS rats as well as the serum levels of growth hormone and IGF-1, the level of BDNF in the hippocampus and the healthy state of hippocampal neurons. Additionally, melatonin treatment of OXYS rats prevented an increase in anxiety and the decline of locomotor activity, of exploratory activity, and of reference memory. Thus, melatonin may be involved in AD progression, whereas oral administration of melatonin could be a prophylactic strategy to prevent or slow down the progression of some features of AD pathology.
BackgroundCerebrovascular dysfunction plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD): the most common cause of dementia in the elderly. The involvement of neurovasculature disorders in the progression of AD is now increasingly appreciated, but whether they represent initial factors or late-stage pathological changes during the disease is unclear. Using senescence-accelerated OXYS rats, which simulate key characteristics of sporadic AD, we evaluated contributions of cerebrovascular alterations to the disease development. At preclinical, early, and advanced stages of AD-like pathology, in the hippocampus of OXYS and Wistar (control) rats, we evaluated (i) the blood vessel state by histological and electron-microscopic analyses; (ii) differences in gene expression according to RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) to identify the metabolic processes and pathways associated with blood vessel function; (iii) the amount of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) by western blot and immunohistochemical analysis.ResultsWe observed a loss of hippocampal blood vessel density and ultrastructural changes of those blood vessels in OXYS rats at the early stage of AD-like pathology. There were significant alterations in the vessels and downregulation of VEGF with an increased amount of amyloid β1–42 there at the advanced stage of the disease. According to RNA-Seq data analysis, major alterations in cerebrovascular processes of OXYS rats were associated with blood vessel development, circulatory system processes, the VEGF signaling pathway, and vascular smooth muscle contraction. At preclinical and early stages of the AD-like pathology, these processes were upregulated and then downregulated with age. At the advanced stage in OXYS rats, differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were associated with downregulation of cerebrovascular function as compared to Wistar rats. Among the 46 DEGs at the preclinical stage of the disease, 28 DEGs at the early stage, and among 85 DEGs at the advanced stage, using functional analysis and gene network construction, we identified genes (Nos1, P2rx4, Pla2g6, and Bdkrb2) probably playing a significant role in the development of cerebrovascular dysfunction in OXYS rats.ConclusionsChanges in expression of the genes functionally associated with cerebrovascular processes already in the early period of life may contribute to the development of AD-like pathology in OXYS rats.Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (10.1186/s12864-018-4480-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Melatonin is a multifunctional molecule and plays a crucial role in the regulation of circadian rhythms. The role of melatonin in the protection of the central nervous system is well documented. Therefore, melatonin was proposed as a possible therapeutic agent for reducing the severity of Alzheimer's disease (AD), a progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by cognitive decline and memory dysfunction. Recently, we showed beneficial neuroprotective effects of prophylactic supplementation with melatonin in a suitable model of sporadic AD: OXYS rats, which exhibit disturbances in melatonin secretion. In the present study, we demonstrated that melatonin administration, when started at the age of active progression of AD-like pathology, decreased the amyloid-β1 - 42 and amyloid-β1 - 40 levels in the hippocampus and amyloid-β1 - 42 levels in the frontal cortex of OXYS rats. Furthermore, oral administration of melatonin slowed down degenerative alterations in hippocampal neurons of OXYS rats. The most noticeable improvement was observed in the CA1 region of the hippocampus. Melatonin administration prevented the decrease in the mitochondria-occupied portion of the neuronal volume and improved the ultrastructure of mitochondria in the neurons of the CA1 region. Additionally, melatonin treatment of OXYS rats slowed down an increase in anxiety and deterioration of reference memory. Thus, melatonin administration could alleviate the burden of AD and may be considered a promising pharmaceutical treatment of the disease.
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