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Neural Plasticity
Volume 6, Issue 3, Pages 29-40

Apolipoprotein E Antibodies Affect the Retention of Passive Avoidance Memory in the Chick

Brain and Behaviour Research Group, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK

Copyright © 1998 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Isoforms of apolipoprotein E (ApoE) have been implicated as risk factors in Alzheimer’s disease. We have, therefore, examined the possible role of ApoE in memory formation, using a one-trial passive avoidance task in day-old chicks. Birds were trained on the task and then at various times pre or post-training were injected intracerebrally with anti-ApoE. Immunofluorescence staining demonstrated the presence of the antibody bound to the neuropil, close to the injection site and adjacent to the ventricle, with a residence time in the brain of up to 30 min. Chicks that were injected 30 min pre-training or just post-training with 5μg/ hemisphere of the antibody learned the task, but were amnesic when tested at 30 min or at subsequent times up to 24 hr Post-training. When tested at 24 hr, birds injected 5.5 hr post-training showed unimpaired retention. Birds injected with 5μg/hemisphere of anti-ApoA-I (which has a brain distribution similar to that of anti-ApoE) at 30 min pretraining showed no amnesia, indicating the specificity of the effect to the ApoE. Possible mechanisms for this effect are discussed.