Improved long-term potentiation and memory in young tau-P301L transgenic mice before onset of hyperphosphorylation and tauopathy

K Boekhoorn, D Terwel, B Biemans, P Borghgraef, O Wiegert, GJA Ramakers, K de Vos, H Krugers, T Tomiyama, H Mori, M Joels, F van Leuven*, PJ Lucassen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

126 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The microtubule binding protein tau is implicated in neurodegenerative tauopathies, including frontotemporal dementia (FTD) with Parkinsonism caused by diverse mutations in the tau gene. Hyperphosphorylation of tau is considered crucial in the age-related formation of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) correlating well with neurotoxicity and cognitive defects. Transgenic mice expressing FTD mutant tau-P301L recapitulate the human pathology with progressive neuronal impairment and accumulation of NFT. Here, we studied tau-P301L mice for parameters of learning and memory at a young age, before hyperphosphorylation and tauopathy were apparent. Unexpectedly, in young tau-P301L mice, increased long-term potentiation in the dentate gyrus was observed in parallel with improved cognitive performance in object recognition tests. Neither tau phosphorylation, neurogenesis, nor other morphological parameters that were analyzed could account for these cognitive changes. The data demonstrate that learning and memory processes in the hippocampus of young tau-P301L mice are not impaired and actually improved in the absence of marked phosphorylation of human tau. We conclude that protein tau plays an important beneficial role in normal neuronal processes of hippocampal memory, and conversely, that not tau mutations per se, but the ensuing hyperphosphorylation must be critical for cognitive decline in tauopathies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3514-3523
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Neuroscience
Volume26
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29-Mar-2006
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • LTP
  • neurodegeneration
  • memory
  • dendate gyrus
  • neurogenesis
  • Golgi impregnation
  • OBJECT-RECOGNITION MEMORY
  • HUMAN TAU
  • ALZHEIMERS-DISEASE
  • DENTATE GYRUS
  • CELL-CYCLE
  • FRONTOTEMPORAL DEMENTIA
  • SYNAPTIC PLASTICITY
  • ADULT NEUROGENESIS
  • AXONAL-TRANSPORT
  • CEREBRAL-CORTEX

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