Calcium Signaling, Excitability, and Synaptic Plasticity Defects in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease

Hua Zhang, Jie Liu, Suya Sun, Ekaterina Pchitskaya, Elena Popugaeva, Ilya Bezprozvanny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Alzheimer's disease (AD) and aging result in impaired ability to store memories, but the cellular mechanisms responsible for these defects are poorly understood. Presenilin 1 (PS1) mutations are responsible for many early-onset familial AD (FAD) cases. The phenomenon of hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP) is widely used in studies of memory formation and storage. Recent data revealed long-term LTP maintenance (L-LTP) is impaired in PS1-M146V knock-in (KI) FAD mice. To understand the basis for this phenomenon, in the present study we analyzed structural synaptic plasticity in hippocampal cultures from wild type (WT) and KI mice. We discovered that exposure to picrotoxin induces formation of mushroom spines in both WT and KI cultures, but the maintenance of mushroom spines is impaired in KI neurons. This maintenance defect can be explained by an abnormal firing pattern during the consolidation phase of structural plasticity in KI neurons. Reduced frequency of neuronal firing in KI neurons is caused by enhanced calcium-induced calcium release (CICR), enhanced activity of calcium-activated potassium channels, and increased afterhyperpolarization. As a result, "consolidation" pattern of neuronal activity converted to "depotentiation" pattern of neuronal activity in KI neurons. Consistent with this model, we demonstrated that pharmacological inhibitors of CICR (dantrolene), of calcium-activated potassium channels (apamin), and of calcium-dependent phosphatase calcineurin (FK506) are able to rescue structural plasticity defects in KI neurons. Furthermore, we demonstrate that incubation with dantrolene or apamin also rescued L-LTP defects in KI hippocampal slices, suggesting a role for a similar mechanism. This proposed mechanism may be responsible for memory defects in AD but also for age-related memory decline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)561-580
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • calcium signaling
  • excitability
  • synaptic plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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