Motor function deficits in the 12 month-old female 5xFAD mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease

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Motor problems occur early in some patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and as the disease progresses many patients develop motor dysfunction. Motor dysfunction has been reported in some mouse models of AD, including the 5xFAD mouse, thus this model may be particularly useful for studying motor dysfunction in AD. In order to determine the extent of motor dysfunction in these mice, we tested 11–13 month old female 5xFAD and wildtype (WT) control mice in a battery of motor behaviour tasks. The 5xFAD mice showed hind limb clasping, weighed less and had slower righting reflexes than WT mice. In the open field, the 5xFAD mice travelled a shorter distance than the WT mice, spent less time moving and had a slower movement speed. The 5xFAD mice fell faster than the WT mice from the balance beam, wire suspension, grid suspension and rotarod tasks, indicating dysfunctions in balance, grip strength, motor co-ordination and motor learning. The 5xFAD mice had a short, shuffling gait with a shorter stride length than WT mice and had a slower swim speed. The 5xFAD mice also failed to show an acoustic startle response, likely due to motor dysfunction and previously reported hearing impairment. The 5xFAD mice did not show deficits in the ability of peripheral motor nerves to drive muscle output, suggesting that motor impairments are not due to dysfunction in peripheral motor nerves. These results indicate that the aged 5xFAD mice are deficient in numerous motor behaviours, and suggest that these mice may prove to be a good model for studying the mechanisms of motor dysfunction in AD, and motor behaviour might prove useful for assessing the efficacy of AD therapeutics. Motor dysfunction in 5xFAD mice must also be considered in behavioural tests of sensory and cognitive function so that performance is not confounded by impaired locomotor or swimming behaviour.

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