Acetylcholinesterase induces neuronal cell loss, astrocyte hypertrophy and behavioral deficits in mammalian hippocampus

Marcelo A. Chacón, Ariel E. Reyes, Nibaldo C. Inestrosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have demonstrated that acetylcholinesterase (AChE) promotes the assembly of amyloid-β-peptides into neurotoxic amyloid fibrils and is toxic for chick retina neuronal cultures and neuroblastoma cells. Moreover, AChE is present in senile plaques in Alzheimer's disease (AD) brains. Here we have studied the effect of AChE on astrocytes and hippocampal neurons in vivo. Morphological as well as behavioral disturbances were analyzed after intrahippocampal injection of AChE. Rats were trained in the Morris water maze and assayed for behavioral parameters. Neuronal cell loss was found in the upper leaf of the dentate gyrus in rats injected with AChE in comparison with control animals. Glial fibrillary acidic protein immunoreactivity showed astrocytic hypertrophy and the magnitude of the response was associated with neuronal cell loss. Behavioral results show that injection of AChE produces cognitive impairment demonstrated by an altered water maze performance including (i) a higher escape latency score, (ii) a decreased spatial acuity and (iii) a shorter time of swimming in the platform quadrant. These findings indicate that a local increment in neuronal AChE concentration at the mammalian hippocampus, such as those present in amyloid deposits, may play a role in triggering neuropathological and behavioral changes such as those observed in AD brains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-204
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003


  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Intrahippocampal injection
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Spatial memory
  • Water maze

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Acetylcholinesterase induces neuronal cell loss, astrocyte hypertrophy and behavioral deficits in mammalian hippocampus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this