Brain's Immune System May Eliminate Alzheimer's Amyloid

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A new study appearing in the Journal of Neuroinflammation suggests that the brain's immune system could potentially be harnessed to help clear the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

Michael O’Banion, MD, PhD, of the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and colleagues performed experiments to see if they could duplicate clearance of beta-amyloid protein without brain inflammation present. Earlier research by the team in mouse models of Alzheimer’s found that the amyloid beta was being eliminated in animals with chronic brain inflammation.

The researchers focused their work on microglia, cells present throughout the central nervous system and brain that work to protecting against infection. The found a way to “trick” the microglia into action using a protein molecule. After they did this, they found there was a 60% reduction in beta-amyloid in the brain, they reported in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

“This research confirms earlier observations that, when activated to fight inflammation, the brain's immune system plays a role in the removal of amyloid beta.” O’Banion said in a statement. “We have also demonstrated that the immune system can be manipulated in a manner that accelerates this process, potentially pointing to a new therapeutic approach to Alzheimer's disease.”

Brain's Immune System May Eliminate Alzheimer's Amyloid
When activated to fight inflammation, the brain's immune system plays a role in the removal of beta-amyloid plaque.

A new study appearing in the Journal of Neuroinflammation suggests that the brain's immune system could potentially be harnessed to help clear the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

The findings are the culmination of years of investigation that were triggered when O'Banion and his colleagues made a surprising discovery while studying mouse models of Alzheimer's disease. They observed that amyloid beta plaques — which scientists believe play a major role in the disease - were being cleared in animals with chronic brain inflammation.

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