Estrogen treatment improves spatial learning in APP + PS1 mice but does not affect beta amyloid accumulation and plaque formation
This study investigated the effects of ovariectomy (OVX) and 17β-estradiol (0.18 mg per pellet) treatment on spatial learning and memory, hippocampal beta amyloid (Aβ) levels, and amyloid plaque counts in double transgenic mice (A/P) carrying mutated amyloid precursor protein (APPswe) and presenilin-1 (PS1-A246E). After OVX at 3 months of age, the mice received estrogen treatment for the last 3 months of their lifetime before they were killed at 6, 9, or 12 months of age. Estrogen treatment in A/P OVX mice increased the number of correct choices in a position discrimination task in the T-maze, and slightly improved their performance in a win-stay task (1/8 arms baited) in the radial arm maze (RAM). However, estrogen treatment did not reverse the Aβ-dependent cognitive deficits of A/P mice in the water maze (WM) spatial navigation task. Furthermore, ovariectomy or estrogen treatment in OVX and sham-operated A/P mice had no effect on hippocampal amyloid accumulation. These results show that the estrogen treatment in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) improves performance in the same learning and memory tasks as in the normal C57BL/6J mice. However, the estrogen effects in these mice appeared to be unrelated to Aβ-induced cognitive deficits. These results do not support the idea that estrogen treatment decreases the risk or alleviates the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease by inhibiting the accumulation of Aβ or formation of amyloid plaques.