Gradual decline in cognitive and non-cognitive functions are considered clinical hallmarks of Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Post-mortem autoptic analysis shows the presence of amyloid ß deposits, neuroinflammation and severe brain atrophy. However, brain circuit alterations and cellular derailments, assessed in very early stages of AD, still remain elusive. The understanding of these early alterations is crucial to tackle defective mechanisms.
In a previous study we proved that the Tg2576 mouse model of AD displays functional deficits in the dorsal hippocampus and relevant behavioural AD-related alterations. We had shown that these deficits in Tg2576 mice correlate with the precocious degeneration of dopamine (DA) neurons in the Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) and can be restored by L-DOPA treatment. Due to the distinct functionality and connectivity of dorsal versus ventral hippocampus, here we investigated neuronal excitability and synaptic functionality in the ventral CA1 hippocampal sub-region of Tg2576 mice. We found an age-dependent alteration of cell excitability and firing in pyramidal neurons starting at 3 months of age, that correlates with reduced levels in the ventral CA1 of tyrosine hydroxylase – the rate-limiting enzyme of DA synthesis. Additionally, at odds with the dorsal hippocampus, we found no alterations in basal glutamatergic transmission and long-term plasticity of ventral neurons in 8-month old Tg2576 mice compared to age-matched controls. Last, we used computational analysis to model the early derailments of firing properties observed and hypothesize that the neuronal alterations found could depend on dysfunctional sodium and potassium conductances, leading to anticipated depolarization-block of action potential firing. The present study depicts that impairment of cell excitability and homeostatic control of firing in ventral CA1 pyramidal neurons is a prodromal feature in Tg2576 AD mice.
Spoleti E, Krashia P, La Barbera L, Nobili A, Lupascu CA, Giacalone E, Keller F, Migliore M, Renzi M, D'Amelio M (2021) Early derailment of firing properties in CA1 pyramidal cells of the ventral hippocampus in an Alzheimer's disease mouse model Experimental neurology