Specific neurochemical derangements of brain projecting neurons in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice

Shira Chapman, Daniel M. Michaelson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Apolipoprotein E (apoE)-deficient mice provide a useful system for studying the role of apoE in neuronal maintenance and repair. Previous studies revealed specific memory impairments in these mice that are associated with presynaptic derangements in projecting forebrain cholinergic neurons. In the present study we examined whether dopaminergic, noradrenergic, and serotonergic projecting pathways of apoE-deficient mice are also affected and investigated the mechanisms that render them susceptible. The densities of nerve terminals of forebrain cholinergic projections were monitored histochemically by measurements of acetylcholinesterase activity, whereas those of the dopaminergic nigrostriatal pathway, the noradrenergic locus coeruleus cortical projection, and the raphe-cortical serotonergic tract were measured autoradiographically using radioligands that bind specifically to the respective presynaptic transporters of these neuronal tracts. The results obtained revealed that synaptic densities of cholinergic, noradrenergic, and serotonergic projections in specific brain regions of apoE-deficient mice are markedly lower than those of controls. Furthermore, the extent of presynaptic derangement within each of these tracts was found to be more pronounced the further away the nerve terminal is from its cell body. In contrast, the nerve terminal density of the dopaminergic neurons that project from the substantia nigra to the striatum was unaffected and was similar to that of the controls. The rank order of these presynaptic derangements at comparable distances from the respective cell bodies was found to be septohippocampal cholinergic > nucleus basalis cholinergic > locus coeruleus adrenergic > raphe serotonergic >> nigrostriatal dopaminergic, which interestingly is similar to that observed in Alzheimer's disease. These results suggest that two complementary factors determine the susceptibility of brain projecting neurons to apoE deficiency: pathway-specific differences and the distance of the nerve terminals from their cell body.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)708-714
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1998


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Apolipoprotein E-deficient mice
  • Cholinergic projections
  • Dopaminergic projections
  • Noradrenergic projections
  • Serotonergic projections


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