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J Neurosci. 2012 Jun 6;32(23):7852-61. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5901-11.2012.

Neurotoxicity and memory deficits induced by soluble low-molecular-weight amyloid-β1-42 oligomers are revealed in vivo by using a novel animal model.

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INSERM, UMR837, Alzheimer and Tauopathies, 59045 Lille, France.


Neuronal and synaptic degeneration are the best pathological correlates for memory decline in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Although the accumulation of soluble low-molecular-weight amyloid-β (Aβ) oligomers has been suggested to trigger neurodegeneration in AD, animal models overexpressing or infused with Aβ lack neuronal loss at the onset of memory deficits. Using a novel in vivo approach, we found that repeated hippocampal injections of small soluble Aβ(1-42) oligomers in awake, freely moving mice were able to induce marked neuronal loss, tau hyperphosphorylation, and deficits in hippocampus-dependent memory. The neurotoxicity of small Aβ(1-42) species was observed in vivo as well as in vitro in association with increased caspase-3 activity and reduced levels of the NMDA receptor subunit NR2B. We found that the sequestering agent transthyretin is able to bind the toxic Aβ(1-42) species and attenuated the loss of neurons and memory deficits. Our novel mouse model provides evidence that small, soluble Aβ(1-42) oligomers are able to induce extensive neuronal loss in vivo and initiate a cascade of events that mimic the key neuropathological hallmarks of AD.

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