Neurogeneticists harness immune cells to clear Alzheimer's-associated plaques

USC neurogeneticists harness immune cells to clear Alzheimer's-associated plaques
This is a 3-D reconstruction of an immune cell (red) containing β-amyloid (blue) within an intracellular degradation compartment (yellow). Deletion of the anti-inflammatory cytokine, Il10, activates innate immune cells to clear the brain of toxic β-amyloid plaques. Credit: Marie-Victoire Guillot-Sestier, Ph.D.

New research from scientists at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) shows that the body's immune system may be able to clear the brain of toxic plaque build-up that is the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, reversing memory loss and brain cell damage.

The study, which appears in the Feb. 4 edition of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Neuron, identifies a promising avenue for treating a disease that the Alzheimer's Association projects will affect 16 million Americans over age 65 by 2050.

"Alzheimer's disease is the public health crisis of our time, and effective treatment does not yet exist," said Terrence Town, Ph.D., professor of physiology and biophysics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the study's senior author. "Our study shows that 'rebalancing' the to wipe away toxic plaques from the brain may bring new hope for a safe and for this devastating illness of the mind."

Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Affecting more than 5 million Americans today, Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia, a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities. Brains with Alzheimer's disease show build-up of a sticky plaque—made of a protein called beta-amyloid—that induces memory loss. When afflicted with Alzheimer's, the immune system, which typically rids the body of toxic substances, becomes imbalanced and inefficient at clearing those plaques.

In the Neuron study, Town and his team used genetically modified mice to show that blocking a substance called interleukin-10 activates an immune response to clear the brain of the beta-amyloid plaques to restore and . Alzheimer's-afflicted mice in which the were activated behaved more like mice without the disease in various learning and memory tests. Future studies will test the effectiveness of drugs that target interleukin-10 in rats that the scientists have genetically modified to develop Alzheimer's disease.


Explore further

Blood vessels in older brains break down, possibly leading to Alzheimer's

Provided by University of Southern California
Citation: Neurogeneticists harness immune cells to clear Alzheimer's-associated plaques (2015, February 5) retrieved 21 February 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-02-neurogeneticists-harness-immune-cells-alzheimer-associated.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
491 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Feb 05, 2015
"THC blocks an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase, which speeds the formation of amyloid plaque in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer's drugs Aricept and Cognex work by blocking acetylcholinesterase. When tested at double the concentration of THC, Aricept blocked plaque formation only 22% as well as THC, and Cognex blocked plaque formation only 7% as well as THC." From "Marijuana May Slow Alzheimer's" WebMD.

"The activation of cannabinoid CB2 receptors stimulates in situ and in vitro beta-amyloid removal by human macrophages" (PubMed) and "Activation of the CB(2) receptor system reverses amyloid-induced memory deficiency" (PubMed)

THC activates both the CB1 (the high and some healing) and the CB2 (just healing) receptors! Learn more by running a search for "Granny Storm Crow's List".

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more