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Behav Brain Res. 2000 Jun 15;111(1-2):125-37.

Individual and combined manipulation of muscarinic, NMDA, and benzodiazepine receptor activity in the water maze task: implications for a rat model of Alzheimer dementia.

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Department of Psychology and Graduate Program in Neuroscience, University of Western Ontario, Ont., N6A 5C2, London, Canada.


Recent evidence indicates that Alzheimer disease typically involves different degrees of impairment in a variety of neurotransmitter systems, behaviors, and cognitive abilities in different patients. To investigate the relations between neurotransmitter system, behavioral, and cognitive impairments in an animal model of Alzheimer disease we studied spatial learning in a Morris water maze in male Long-Evans rats given neurochemical agents that targeted muscarinic cholinergic, NMDA, or benzodiazepine systems. Naive rats given a single agent or a combination of agents were severely impaired in place responding and had behavioral strategy impairments. Rats made familiar with the required water maze behavioral strategies by non-spatial pretraining performed as well as controls if given a single agent. Non-spatially pretrained rats with manipulation of both muscarinic cholinergic and NMDA or muscarinic cholinergic and benzodiazepine systems had a specific place response impairment but no behavioral strategy impairments. The results suggest that impairment of both muscarinic cholinergic and NMDA, or muscarinic cholinergic and benzodiazepine systems may model some aspects of human Alzheimer disease (impairments in navigation in familiar environments), but not other aspects of this disorder (global dementia leading to general loss of adaptive behavior). Previous research suggests that impairment of both muscarinic cholinergic and serotonergic systems may provide a better model of global dementia. The water maze testing and detailed behavioral analysis techniques used here appear to provide a means of investigating the contributions of various combinations of neurotransmitter system impairments to an animal model of Alzheimer disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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