Active β-Amyloid Immunization Restores Spatial Learning in PDAPP Mice Displaying Very Low Levels of β-Amyloid

Guiquan Chen, Karen S. Chen, Dione Kobayashi, Robin Barbour, Ruth Motter, Dora Games, Stephen J. Martin, Richard G. M. Morris

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42 Citations (Scopus)


The behavioral and biochemical impact of active immunization against human beta-amyloid (Abeta) was assessed using male transgenic (Tg) mice overexpressing a human mutant amyloid precursor protein (heterozygous PDAPP mice) and littermate controls. Administration of aggregated Abeta42 occurred at monthly intervals from 7 months ("prevention") or 11 months ("reversal"), followed by double-blind behavioral training at 16 months on a cued task, then serial spatial learning in a water maze. Using a 2 x 2 design, with Abeta42 adjuvanted with MPL-AF (adjuvant formulation of monophosphoryl lipid A) or MPL-AF alone, PDAPP mice were impaired compared with non-Tg littermates on two separate measures of serial spatial learning. Immunization caused no overall rescue of learning but limited the accumulation of total Abeta and Abeta42 levels in cortex and hippocampus by up to 60%. In immunized PDAPP mice, significant negative correlations were observed between hippocampal and cortical Abeta levels and learning capacity, particularly in the prevention study, and correlations between learning capacity and antibody titer. Moreover, a subset of PDAPP mice with very low Abeta levels (hippocampal Abeta levels of <6000 ng/g or cortical Abeta levels of <1000 ng/g) was indistinguishable from non-Tg controls. Mice in the prevention study were also rescued from cognitive impairment more effectively than those in the reversal study. The combination of variability in antibody response and differential levels of Abeta accumulation across the population of immunized PDAPP mice may be responsible for success in cognitive protection with only a subset of these animals, but the similarity to the findings of certain human vaccination trials is noteworthy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2654-2662
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2007


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides/immunology
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor/genetics
  • Animals
  • Antibodies/blood
  • Behavior, Animal/physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex/metabolism
  • Cues
  • Hippocampus/metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Male
  • Maze Learning/physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mutation
  • Peptide Fragments/immunology
  • Swimming
  • Task Performance and Analysis


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