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Brain. 2015 Dec;138(Pt 12):3699-715. doi: 10.1093/brain/awv293. Epub 2015 Oct 28.

Opposing effects of Apoe/Apoa1 double deletion on amyloid-β pathology and cognitive performance in APP mice.

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1 Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, USA.
2 Department of Neurology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.
3 Biological Sciences, Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282, USA.
4 Department of Pathology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
1 Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, USA


ATP binding cassette transporter A1 (encoded by ABCA1) regulates cholesterol efflux from cells to apolipoproteins A-I and E (ApoA-I and APOE; encoded by APOA1 and APOE, respectively) and the generation of high density lipoproteins. In Abca1 knockout mice (Abca1(ko)), high density lipoproteins and ApoA-I are virtually lacking, and total APOE and APOE-containing lipoproteins in brain substantially decreased. As the ε4 allele of APOE is the major genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's disease, ABCA1 role as a modifier of APOE lipidation is of significance for this disease. Reportedly, Abca1 deficiency in mice expressing human APP accelerates amyloid deposition and behaviour deficits. We used APP/PS1dE9 mice crossed to Apoe and Apoa1 knockout mice to generate Apoe/Apoa1 double-knockout mice. We hypothesized that Apoe/Apoa1 double-knockout mice would mimic the phenotype of APP/Abca1(ko) mice in regards to amyloid plaques and cognitive deficits. Amyloid pathology, peripheral lipoprotein metabolism, cognitive deficits and dendritic morphology of Apoe/Apoa1 double-knockout mice were compared to APP/Abca1(ko), APP/PS1dE9, and single Apoa1 and Apoe knockouts. Contrary to our prediction, the results demonstrate that double deletion of Apoe and Apoa1 ameliorated the amyloid pathology, including amyloid plaques and soluble amyloid. In double knockout mice we show that (125)I-amyloid-β microinjected into the central nervous system cleared at a rate twice faster compared to Abca1 knockout mice. We tested the effect of Apoe, Apoa1 or Abca1 deficiency on spreading of exogenous amyloid-β seeds injected into the brain of young pre-depositing APP mice. The results show that lack of Abca1 augments dissemination of exogenous amyloid significantly more than the lack of Apoe. In the periphery, Apoe/Apoa1 double-knockout mice exhibited substantial atherosclerosis and very high levels of low density lipoproteins compared to APP/PS1dE9 and APP/Abca1(ko). Plasma level of amyloid-β42 measured at several time points for each mouse was significantly higher in Apoe/Apoa1 double-knockout then in APP/Abca1(ko) mice. This result demonstrates that mice with the lowest level of plasma lipoproteins, APP/Abca1(ko), have the lowest level of peripheral amyloid-β. Unexpectedly, and independent of amyloid pathology, the deletion of both apolipoproteins worsened behaviour deficits of double knockout mice and their performance was undistinguishable from those of Abca1 knockout mice. Finally we observed that the dendritic complexity in the CA1 region of hippocampus but not in CA2 is significantly impaired by Apoe/Apoa1 double deletion as well as by lack of ABCA1.


(i) plasma lipoproteins may affect amyloid-β clearance from the brain by the 'peripheral sink' mechanism; and (ii) deficiency of brain APOE-containing lipoproteins is of significance for dendritic complexity and cognition.


ABCA1; APOA1; APOE; Alzheimer’s disease; behaviour

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