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Immunotherapy for Alzheimer's disease

Biochemical Pharmacology
DOI: 10.1016/j.bcp.2013.12.020
  • Amyloid β
  • Tau
  • Vaccination
  • Immunomodulation
  • Alzheimer'S Disease
  • Transgenic Mice
  • Biology
  • Design
  • Medicine


Abstract Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia worldwide. In AD the normal soluble amyloid β (sAβ) peptide is converted into oligomeric/fibrillar Aβ. The oligomeric forms of Aβ are thought to be the most toxic, while fibrillar Aβ becomes deposited as amyloid plaques and congophilic angiopathy, which serve as neuropathological markers of the disease. In addition the accumulation of abnormally phosphorylated tau as soluble toxic oligomers and as neurofibrillary tangles is a critical part of the pathology. Numerous therapeutic interventions are under investigation to prevent and treat AD. Among the more exciting and advanced of these approaches is vaccination. Active and passive Immunotherapy targeting only Aβ has been successful in many AD model animal trials; however, the more limited human data has shown much less benefit so far, with encephalitis occurring in a minority of patients treated with active immunization and vasogenic edema or amyloid-related imaging abnormalities (ARIA) being a complication in some passive immunization trials. Therapeutic intervention targeting only tau has been tested only in mouse models; and no approaches targeting both pathologies concurrently has been attempted, until very recently. The immune approaches tried so far were targeting a self-protein, albeit in an abnormal conformation; however, effective enhanced clearance of the disease associated conformer has to be balanced with the potential risk of stimulating excessive toxic inflammation. The design of future more effective immunomodulatory approaches will need to target all aspects of AD pathology, as well as specifically targeting pathological oligomeric conformers, without the use of any self-antigen.

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