The goal of this study was to determine the chronic impact of stroke on the manifestation of Alzheimer's disease (AD) related pathology and behavioral impairments in mice. To accomplish this goal, we used two distinct models. First, we experimentally induced ischemic stroke in aged wildtype (wt) C57BL/6 mice to determine if stroke leads to the manifestation of AD-associated pathological ß-amyloid (Aß) and tau in aged versus young adult wt mice. Second, we utilized a transgenic (Tg) mouse model of AD (hAPP-SL) to determine if stroke leads to the worsening of pre-existing AD pathology, as well as the development of pathology in brain regions not typically expressed in AD Tg mice. In the wt mice, there was delayed motor recovery and an accelerated development of cognitive deficits in aged mice compared to young adult mice following stroke. This corresponded with increased brain atrophy, increased cholinergic degeneration, and a focal increase of Aß in areas of axonal degeneration in the ipsilateral hemisphere of the aged animals. By contrast, in the hAPP-SL mice, we found that ischemia induced aggravated behavioral deficits in conjunction with a global increase in Aß, tau, and cholinergic pathology compared to hAPP-SL mice that underwent a sham stroke procedure. With regard to a potential mechanism, in both models, we found that the stroke-induced Aß and tau deposits co-localized with increased levels of ß-secretase 1 (BACE1), along with its substrate, neuregulin 1 (NGR1) type III, both of which are proteins integral for myelin repair. Based on these findings, we propose that the chronic sequelae of stroke may be ratcheting-up a myelin repair pathway, and that the consequent increase in BACE1 could be causing an inadvertent cleavage of its alternative substrate, AßPP, resulting in greater Aß seeding and pathogenesis.
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