Behavioral deficits and cholinergic pathway abnormalities in male Sanfilippo B mice

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Sanfilippo B syndrome is a progressive neurological disorder caused by inability to catabolize heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycans. We studied neurobehavior in male Sanfilippo B mice and heterozygous littermate controls from 16 to 20 weeks of age. Affected mice showed reduced anxiety, with a decrease in the number of stretch-attend postures during the elevated plus maze (p = 0.001) and an increased tendency to linger in the center of an open field (p = 0.032). Water maze testing showed impaired spatial learning, with reduced preference for the target quadrant (p = 0.01). In radial arm maze testing, affected mice failed to achieve above-chance performance in a win-shift working memory task (t-test relative to 50% chance: p = 0.289), relative to controls (p = 0.037). We found a 12.4% reduction in mean acetylcholinesterase activity (p < 0.001) and no difference in choline acetyltransferase activity or acetylcholine in whole brain of affected male animals compared to controls. Cholinergic pathways are affected in adult-onset dementias, including Alzheimer disease. Our results suggest that male Sanfilippo B mice display neurobehavioral deficits at a relatively early age, and that as in adult dementias, they may display deficits in cholinergic pathways.

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