BACKGROUND: Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by gradual declines in social, cognitive, and emotional functions, leading to a loss of expected social behavior. Social isolation has been shown to have adverse effects on individual development and growth as well as health and aging. Previous experiments have shown that social isolation causes an early onset of Alzheimer's disease-like phenotypes in young APP695/PS1-dE9 transgenic mice. However, the interactions between social isolation and Alzheimer's disease still remain unknown.

METHODS: Seventeen-month-old male APP695/PS1-dE9 transgenic mice were either singly housed or continued group housing for 3 months. Then, Alzheimer's disease-like pathophysiological changes were evaluated by using behavioral, biochemical, and pathological analyses.

RESULTS: Isolation housing further promoted cognitive dysfunction and Aβ plaque accumulation in the hippocampus of aged APP695/PS1-dE9 transgenic mice, associated with increased γ-secretase and decreased neprilysin expression. Furthermore, exacerbated hippocampal atrophy, synapse and myelin associated protein loss, and glial neuroinflammatory reactions were observed in the hippocampus of isolated aged APP695/PS1-dE9 transgenic mice.

CONCLUSIONS: The results demonstrate that social isolation exacerbates Alzheimer's disease-like pathophysiology in aged APP695/PS1-dE9 transgenic mice, highlighting the potential role of group life for delaying or counteracting the Alzheimer's disease process.

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Published in International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, v. 18, no. 7, p. 1-10.

© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of CINP. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 81271210) and the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Educational Department (14KJA320001).