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Microcebus murinus: a useful primate model for human cerebral aging and Alzheimer's disease?

Bons, N.
Rieger, F.
Prudhomme, D.
Fisher, A.
Published in Genes, Brain and Behavior. 2006, vol. 5, no. 2, p. 120-130
Abstract Age-associated dementia, in particular Alzheimer's disease (AD), will be a major concern of the 21st century. Research into normal brain aging and AD will therefore become increasingly important. As for other areas of medicine, the availability of good animal models will be a limiting factor for progress. Given the complexity of the human brain, the identification of appropriate primate models will be essential to further knowledge of the disease. In this review, we describe the features of brain aging and age-associated neurodegeneration in a small lemurian primate, the Microcebus murinus, also referred to as the mouse lemur. The mouse lemur has a relatively short life expectancy, and animals over 5 years of age are considered to be elderly. Among elderly mouse lemurs, the majority show normal brain aging, whereas approximately 20% develop neurodegeneration. This Microcebus age-associated neurodegeneration is characterized by a massive brain atrophy, abundant amyloid plaques, a cytoskeletal Tau pathology and a loss of cholinergic neurons. While elderly mouse lemurs with normal brain aging maintain memory function and social interaction, animals with age-associated neurodegeneration lose their cognitive and social capacities and demonstrate certain similarities with age-associated human AD. We conclude that M. murinus is an interesting primate model for the study of normal brain aging and the biochemical dysfunctions occurring in age-associated neurodegeneration. Mouse lemurs might also become an increasingly important model for the development of novel treatments in this domain.
Keywords Aging/ pathologyAlzheimer Disease/ pathology/physiopathologyAnimalsCerebral Cortex/ pathology/physiopathologyCheirogaleidae/anatomy & histology/ physiologyCognition Disorders/etiology/pathology/physiopathologyDisease Models, AnimalHumansLife ExpectancyNerve Degeneration/pathology/physiopathologySenile Plaques/pathology
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PMID: 16507003
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