Original Article

Neuropsychopharmacology (2014) 39, 411–424; doi:10.1038/npp.2013.208; published online 11 September 2013

There is a Corrigendum (11 December 2014) associated with this article.

Intra-Hippocampal Transplantation of Neural Precursor Cells with Transgenic Over-Expression of IL-1 Receptor Antagonist Rescues Memory and Neurogenesis Impairments in an Alzheimer’s Disease Model

Ofra Ben-Menachem-Zidon1, Yair Ben-Menahem1, Tamir Ben-Hur2 and Raz Yirmiya1

  1. 1Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
  2. 2Department of Neurology, Hadassah-Hebrew University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel

Correspondence: Professor R Yirmiya, Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel, Tel: +972 2 5883695, Fax: +972 2 5882947, E-mail: razyirmiya@huji.ac.il

Received 9 April 2013; Revised 28 July 2013; Accepted 5 August 2013
Accepted article preview online 19 August 2013; Advance online publication 11 September 2013

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Abstract

Ample evidence implicates neuroinflammatory processes in the etiology and progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). To assess the specific role of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1 (IL-1) in AD we examined the effects of intra-hippocampal transplantation of neural precursor cells (NPCs) with transgenic over-expression of IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1raTG) on memory functioning and neurogenesis in a murine model of AD (Tg2576 mice). WT NPCs- or sham-transplanted Tg2576 mice, as well as naive Tg2576 and WT mice served as controls. To assess the net effect of IL-1 blockade (not in the context of NPCs transplantation), we also examined the effects of chronic (4 weeks) intra-cerebroventricular (i.c.v.) administration of IL-1ra. We report that 12-month-old Tg2576 mice exhibited increased mRNA expression of hippocampal IL-1β, along with severe disturbances in hippocampal-dependent contextual and spatial memory as well as in neurogenesis. Transplantation of IL-1raTG NPCs 1 month before the neurobehavioral testing completely rescued these disturbances and significantly increased the number of endogenous hippocampal cells expressing the plasticity-related molecule BDNF. Similar, but less-robust effects were also produced by transplantation of WT NPCs and by i.c.v. IL-1ra administration. NPCs transplantation produced alterations in hippocampal plaque formation and microglial status, which were not clearly correlated with the cognitive effects of this procedure. The results indicate that elevated levels of hippocampal IL-1 are causally related to some AD-associated memory disturbances, and provide the first example for the potential use of genetically manipulated NPCs with anti-inflammatory properties in the treatment of AD.

Keywords:

Alzheimer’s disease; neural precursor cells; interleukin-1; hippocampus; neurogenesis; microglia

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