Aβ vaccination in combination with behavioral enrichment in aged beagles: effects on cognition, Aβ, and microhemorrhages

Paulina R. Davis, Ginevra Giannini, Karin Rudolph, Nathaniel Calloway, Christopher M. Royer, Tina L. Beckett, M. Paul Murphy, Frederick Bresch, Dieter Pagani, Thomas Platt, Xiaohong Wang, Amy Skinner Donovan, Tiffany L. Sudduth, Wenjie Lou, Erin Abner, Richard Kryscio, Donna M. Wilcock, Edward G. Barrett, Elizabeth Head

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Beta-amyloid (Aβ) immunotherapy is a promising intervention to slow Alzheimer's disease. Aging dogs naturally accumulate Aβ and show cognitive decline. An active vaccine against fibrillar Aβ 1–42 (VAC) in aged beagles resulted in maintenance but not improvement of cognition along with reduced brain Aβ. Behavioral enrichment (ENR) led to cognitive benefits but no reduction in Aβ. We hypothesized cognitive outcomes could be improved by combining VAC with ENR in aged dogs. Aged dogs (11–12 years) were placed into 4 groups: (1) control/control (C/C); (2) control/VAC (C/V); (3) ENR/control (E/C); and (4) ENR/VAC (E/V) and treated for 20 months. VAC decreased brain Aβ, pyroglutamate Aβ, increased cerebrospinal fluid Aβ 42 and brain-derived neurotrophic factor RNA levels but also increased microhemorrhages. ENR reduced brain Aβ and prevented microhemorrhages. The combination treatment resulted in a significant maintenance of learning over time, reduced Aβ, and increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA despite increased microhemorrhages; however, there were no benefits to memory. These results suggest that the combination of immunotherapy with behavioral enrichment leads to cognitive maintenance associated with reduced neuropathology that may benefit people with Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-99
Number of pages14
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc.


  • Aging
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Brain
  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor
  • Canine
  • Cerebrovascular
  • Dog
  • Immunotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Aging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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