Impairments in spatial representations and rhythmic coordination of place cells in the 3xTg mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.
UNLABELLED The formation and deposition of tau protein aggregates is proposed to contribute to cognitive impairments in dementia by disrupting neuronal function in brain regions, including the hippocampus. We used a battery of in vivo and in vitro electrophysiological recordings in the rTg4510 transgenic mouse model, which overexpresses a mutant form of human tau protein, to investigate the effects of tau pathology on hippocampal neuronal function in area CA1 of 7- to 8-month-old mice, an age point at which rTg4510 animals exhibit advanced tau pathology and progressive neurodegeneration. In vitro recordings revealed shifted theta-frequency resonance properties of CA1 pyramidal neurons, deficits in synaptic transmission at Schaffer collateral synapses, and blunted plasticity and imbalanced inhibition at temporoammonic synapses. These changes were associated with aberrant CA1 network oscillations, pyramidal neuron bursting, and spatial information coding in vivo. Our findings relate tauopathy-associated changes in cellular neurophysiology to altered behavior-dependent network function. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Dementia is characterized by the loss of learning and memory ability. The deposition of tau protein aggregates in the brain is a pathological hallmark of dementia; and the hippocampus, a brain structure known to be critical in processing learning and memory, is one of the first and most heavily affected regions. Our results show that, in area CA1 of hippocampus, a region involved in spatial learning and memory, tau pathology is associated with specific disturbances in synaptic, cellular, and network-level function, culminating in the aberrant encoding of spatial information and spatial memory impairment. These studies identify several novel ways in which hippocampal information processing may be disrupted in dementia, which may provide targets for future therapeutic intervention.