Translational research on behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) is relevant to the study the neuropsychiatric symptoms that strongly affect the quality of life of the human Alzheimer's disease (AD) patient and caregivers, frequently leading to early institutionalization. Among the ethological behavioural tests for rodents, marble burying is considered to model the spectrum of anxiety, psychotic and obsessive-compulsive like symptoms. The present work was aimed to study the behavioural interactions of 12 month-old male 3xTg-AD mice with small objects using the marble-burying test, as compared to the response elicited in age-matched non-transgenic (NTg) mice. The distinction of the classical 'number of buried marbles' but also those left 'intact' and those 'changed' of position of marbles or partially buried (the transitional level of interaction) provided new insights into the modelling of BPSD-like alterations in this AD model. The analysis revealed genotype differences in the behavioural patterns and predominant behaviors. In the NTg mice, predominance was shown in the 'changed or partially buried', while interactions with marble were enhanced in 3xTg-AD mice resulting in an increase of marble burying. Besides, genotype-dependent meaningful correlations were found, with the marble test pattern of 3xTg-AD mice being directly related to neophobia in the corner tests. In both genotypes, the increase of burying was reversed by chronic treatment with risperidone (1mg/kg, s.c.). In 3xTg-AD mice, the repetitive handling of animals during the treatment also exerted modulatory effects. These distinct patterns further characterize the modelling of BPSD-like symptoms in the 3xTg-AD mice, and provide another behavioural tool to assess the benefits of preventive and/or therapeutic strategies, as well as the potential action of risk factors for AD, in this animal model.
Marble-burying is enhanced in 3xTg-AD mice, can be reversed by risperidone and it is modulable by handling.