Microglia-Synapse Pathways: Promising Therapeutic Strategy for Alzheimer's Disease
Amyloid-β (Aβ)-induced changes in synaptic function in experimental models of Alzheimer's disease (AD) suggest that Aβ generation and accumulation may affect fundamental mechanisms of synaptic plasticity. To test this hypothesis, we examined the effect of APP overexpression on a well characterized, in vivo, developmental model of systems-level plasticity, ocular dominance plasticity. Following monocular visual deprivation during the critical period, mice that express mutant alleles of amyloid precursor protein (APPswe) and Presenilin1 (PS1dE9), as well as mice that express APPswe alone, lack ocular dominance plasticity in visual cortex. Defects in the spatial extent and magnitude of the plastic response are evident using two complementary approaches, Arc induction and optical imaging of intrinsic signals in awake mice. This defect in a classic paradigm of systems level synaptic plasticity shows that Aβ overexpression, even early in postnatal life, can perturb plasticity in cerebral cortex, and supports the idea that decreased synaptic plasticity due to elevated Aβ exposure contributes to cognitive impairment in AD.