The knockout mouse model, B6.129P2-Apoetm1Unc
is homozygotic for the Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) deletion; thus, it is capable of developing hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis but ApoE is also a lipid-transport protein abundantly expressed in most neurons in the central nervous system, so these animals could also be models of neurodegenerative diseases. The aim of this study was to determine age-related changes in spontaneous behavior and in learning and memory of Apolipoprotein E knockout mice. Spontaneous behavioral measurements included sleeping pattern, motor coordination and balance by rotarod and open field activity, whereas learning and memory tests included forced alternation in Y-maze, novel object recognition and passive avoidance conditioning. Significant behavioral differences between aged knockout mice and age-matched wild type strain, C57Bl/6 were found in all the behavioral tests, except for the rotarod test. Genetically’ modified mice exhibited less huddling contact during sleeping, decreased locomotor activity in novel environments and in learning and memory deficits. These results are consistent with the cognitive impairment and memory loss seen as the earliest clinical symptoms in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. The ApoE knockout mice might therefore be an appropriate model for studying the underlying mechanisms involved in behavioral changes caused by neurodegenerative diseases as well as for evaluating new therapies for these pathologies.
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