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Am J Pathol. 2003 Dec;163(6):2155-64.

Association of aortic atherosclerosis with cerebral beta-amyloidosis and learning deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.

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Departments of Medicine, Pharmacology, and Genetics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA.


High fat/high cholesterol diets exacerbate beta-amyloidosis in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease (AD). It has been impossible, however, to study the relationship between atherosclerosis and beta-amyloidosis in those models because such mice were on atherosclerosis-resistant genetic backgrounds. Here we report the establishment of AD model mice, B6Tg2576, that are prone to atherosclerosis. B6Tg2576 mice were produced by back-crossing Tg2576 mice, an AD mouse model overexpressing human amyloid beta-protein precursor with the Swedish double mutation, to C57BL/6 mice, a strain susceptible to diet-induced atherosclerosis. An atherogenic diet induced aortic atherosclerosis and exacerbated cerebral beta-amyloidosis in B6Tg2576 mice. Compared with age-matched non-transgenic littermates, B6Tg2576 mice developed significantly more diet-induced aortic atherosclerosis. Unexpectedly, normal diet-fed B6Tg2576 mice also developed fatty streak lesions (early atherosclerosis) in the aorta. The aortic atherosclerotic lesion area positively correlated with cerebral beta-amyloid deposits in B6Tg2576 mice on both atherogenic and normal diets. Furthermore, behavioral assessments demonstrated that B6Tg2576 mice fed an atherogenic diet had more spatial learning impairment than those fed a normal diet. Our results suggest that synergistic mechanisms may be involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and AD. These findings may have important implications in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases as well as AD.

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