Genetic Reduction of Cholesterol Synthesis in the Mouse Brain Does Not Affect Amyloid Formation in an Alzheimer’s Disease Model, but Does Extend Lifespan
In vitro alterations in cellular cholesterol content or synthesis affect the cleavage of amyloid precursor protein (APP) to amyloidogenic peptides characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). To determine whether a decrease in cholesterol synthesis would affect APP processing in vivo, we crossed cholesterol 24-hydroxylase knockout (KO) mice, which exhibit a 50 percent reduction in sterol synthesis, with transgenic mice (B6.Cg-Tg(APPswe, PSEN1E9)85Dbo/J) that develop AD and followed progression of the disease and lipid metabolism in the offspring. APP expression and amyloid plaque deposition in the cortex and hippocampus of 3- to 15-month-old male and female AD mice were similar in the presence and absence of cholesterol 24-hydroxylase. At 15 months of age, a modest but statistically significant decline in insoluble A-beta 40 and A-beta 42 peptide levels was detected in the hippocampus but not cortex of KO/AD mice versus WT/AD mice. Amyloid plaque accumulation did not affect brain sterol or fatty acid synthesis rates in 24-hydroxylase WT or KO mice. Unexpectedly, loss of one or two 24-hydroxylase alleles increased longevity in AD mice. These studies suggest that reducing de novo cholesterol synthesis in the brain will not substantially alter the course of AD, but may confer a survival advantage.