Translational models for vascular cognitive impairment: a review including larger species
Vascular dementia (VaD) is the second leading cause of dementia behind Alzheimer's disease (AD) and is a frequent comorbidity with AD, estimated to occur in as many as 40% of AD patients. The causes of VaD are varied and include chronic cerebral hypoperfusion, microhemorrhages, hemorrhagic infarcts, or ischemic infarcts. We have developed a model of VaD by inducing hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy) in wild-type mice. By placing wild-type mice on a diet deficient in folate, B6, and B12 and supplemented with excess methionine, we induced a moderate HHcy (plasma level homocysteine 82.93 ± 3.561 μmol). After 11 weeks on the diet, the hyperhomocysteinemic mice showed a spatial memory deficit as assessed by the 2-day radial-arm water maze. Also, magnetic resonance imaging and subsequent histology revealed significant microhemorrhage occurrence. We found neuroinflammation induced in the hyperhomocysteinemic mice as determined by elevated interleukin (IL)-1β, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α, and IL-6 in brain tissue. Finally, we found increased expression and increased activity of the matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2) and MMP9 systems that are heavily implicated in the pathogenesis of cerebral hemorrhage. Overall, we have developed a dietary model of VaD that will be valuable for studying the pathophysiology of VaD and also for studying the comorbidity of VaD with other dementias and other neurodegenerative disorders.