The specific roles of Notch in progressive adulthood neurodegenerative disorders have begun to be unraveled in recent years. A number of independent studies have shown significant increases of Notch expression in brains from patients at later stages of sporadic Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the impact of Notch canonical signaling activation in the pathophysiology of AD is still elusive. To further investigate this issue, 2-month-old wild-type (WT) and hemizygous McGill-R-Thy1-APP rats (Tg(+/−)) were injected in CA1 with lentiviral particles (LVP) expressing the transcriptionally active fragment of Notch, known as Notch Intracellular Domain (NICD), (LVP-NICD), or control lentivirus particles (LVP-C). The Tg(+/−) rat model captures presymptomatic aspects of the AD pathology, including intraneuronal amyloid beta (Aβ) accumulation and early cognitive deficits. Seven months after LVP administration, Morris water maze test was performed, and brains isolated for biochemical and histological analysis. Our results showed a learning impairment and a worsening of spatial memory in LVP-NICD- as compared to LVP-C-injected Tg(+/−) rats. In addition, immuno histochemistry, ELISA multiplex, Western blot, RT-qPCR, and 1H-NMR spectrometry of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) indicated that chronic expression of NICD promoted hippocampal vessel thickening with accumulation of Aβ in brain microvasculature, alteration of blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability, and a decrease of CSF glucose levels. These findings suggest that, in the presence of early Aβ pathology, expression of NICD may contribute to the development of microvascular abnormalities, altering glucose transport at the BBB with impact on early decline of spatial learning and memory.
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We acknowledge the helpful comments of Dr. Arthur S. Edison (Departments of Genetics and Biochemistry, Institute of Bioinformatics and Complex Carbohydrate Center, University of Georgia) on the NMR experiments.
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