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Transgenic mouse model for the formation of Hirano bodies

Sangdeuk Ha13, Ruth Furukawa1, Michael Stramiello2, John J Wagner2 and Marcus Fechheimer1*

Author affiliations

1 Dept. Cellular Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA

2 Dept. Physiology Pharmacology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA

3 Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2011, 12:97  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-12-97

Published: 6 October 2011



Hirano bodies are actin-rich cytoplasmic inclusions found predominantly in the brain in association with a variety of conditions including aging and Alzheimer's disease. The function of Hirano bodies in normal aging and in progression of disease has not been extensively investigated due to a lack of experimental model systems. We have developed a transgenic mouse model by expression of a gain-of-function actin cross-linking protein mutant.


We used the Cre/loxP system to permit tissue specific expression of Hirano bodies, and employed the murine Thy 1 promoter to drive expression of Cre recombinase in the brain. Hirano bodies were observed in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus of homozygous double transgenic 6 month old mice containing Cre. The Hirano bodies were eosinophilic rods, and also exhibited the paracrystalline F-actin filament organization that is characteristic of these inclusions. Mice with Hirano bodies appear healthy and fertile, but exhibited some alterations in both short-term and long-term synaptic plasticity, including paired-pulse depression rather than facilitation, and decreased magnitude of early LTP.


Hirano bodies are not lethal and appear to have little or no effect on histology and tissue organization. Hirano bodies do modulate synaptic plasticity and exert clearly discernable effects on LTP and paired-pulse paradigms. This model system will allow us to investigate the impact of Hirano bodies in vivo, the pathways for formation and degradation of Hirano bodies, and whether Hirano bodies promote or modulate development of pathology and disease progression.