Environmental enrichment mitigates cognitive deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

Joanna L. Jankowsky, Tatiana Melnikova, Daniel J. Fadale, Guilian M. Xu, Hilda H. Slunt, Victoria Gonzales, Linda H. Younkin, Steven G. Younkin, David R. Borchelt, Alena V. Savonenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

369 Scopus citations


Epidemiological studies suggest that individuals with greater education or more cognitively demanding occupations have diminished risk of developing dementia. We wanted to test whether this effect could be recapitulated in rodents using environmental enrichment, a paradigm well documented to attenuate behavioral deficits induced by various pathological insults. Here, we demonstrate that learning and memory deficits observed in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease can be ameliorated by enrichment. Female transgenic mice overexpressing amyloid precursor protein and/or presenilin-1 and nontransgenic controls were placed into enriched or standard cages at 2 months of age and tested for cognitive behavior after 6 months of differential housing. Enrichment significantly improved performance of all genotypes in the radial water maze and in the classic and repeated-reversal versions of the Morris water maze. However, enrichment did not benefit all genotypes equally. Mice overproducing amyloid-β (Aβ), particularly those with amyloid deposits, showed weaker memory for the platform location in the classic Morris water maze and learned new platform positions in the repeated-reversals task less quickly than their nontransgenic cagemates. Nonetheless, enrichment normalized the performance of Aβ-overproducing mice to the level of standard-housed nontransgenic mice. Moreover, this functional preservation occurred despite increased neuritic plaque burden in the hippocampus of double-transgenic animals and elevated steady-state Aβ levels, because both endogenous and transgene-derived Aβ are increased in enriched animals. These results demonstrate that the generation of Aβ in vivo and its impact on the function of the nervous system can be strongly modulated by environmental factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5217-5224
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number21
StatePublished - May 25 2005


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid precursor protein
  • Cognitive behavior
  • Environmental enrichment
  • Transgenic mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental enrichment mitigates cognitive deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this