Disruption of normal circadian clock function in a mouse model of tauopathy
Disruption of normal circadian rhythm physiology is associated with neurodegenerative disease, which can lead to symptoms such as altered sleep cycles. In Alzheimer's disease (AD), circadian dysfunction has been attributed to β-amyloidosis. However, it is unclear whether tauopathy, another AD-associated neuropathology, can disrupt the circadian clock. We have evaluated the status of the circadian clock in a mouse model of tauopathy (Tg4510). Tg4510 mice display a long free-running period at an age when tauopathy is present, and show evidence of tauopathy in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus — the site of the master circadian clock. Additionally, cyclic expression of the core clock protein PER2 is disrupted in the hypothalamus of Tg4510 mice. Finally, disruption of the cyclic expression of PER2 and BMAL1, another core circadian clock protein, is evident in the Tg4510 hippocampus. These results demonstrate that tauopathy disrupts normal circadian clock function both at the behavioral and molecular levels, which may be attributed to the tauopathy-induced neuropathology in the SCN. Furthermore, these results establish the Tg4510 mouse line as a model to study how tauopathy disrupts normal circadian rhythm biology.