BackgroundNeurogenesis is significantly impaired in the brains of both human patients and experimental animal models of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Although deep brain stimulation promotes neurogenesis, it is an invasive technique that may damage neural circuitry along the path of the electrode. To circumvent this problem, we assessed whether intracranial electrical stimulation to the brain affects neurogenesis in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease (5xFAD).
Methods and resultsWe used Ki67, Nestin, and doublecortin (DCX) as markers and determined that neurogenesis in both the subventricular zone (SVZ) and hippocampus were significantly reduced in the brains of 4-month-old 5xFAD mice. Guided by a finite element method (FEM) computer simulation to approximately estimate current and electric field in the mouse brain, electrodes were positioned on the skull that were likely to deliver stimulation to the SVZ and hippocampus. After a 4-week program of 40-Hz intracranial alternating current stimulation (iACS), neurogenesis indicated by expression of Ki67, Nestin, and DCX in both the SVZ and hippocampus were significantly increased compared to 5xFAD mice who received sham stimulation. The magnitude of neurogenesis was close to the wild-type (WT) age-matched unmanipulated controls.
ConclusionOur results suggest that iACS is a promising, less invasive technique capable of effectively stimulating the SVZ and hippocampus regions in the mouse brain. Importantly, iACS can significantly boost neurogenesis in the brain and offers a potential treatment for AD.