Breaking News
February 21, 2019 - Mayo clinic researchers discuss local case studies of leprosy
February 21, 2019 - Scientists demonstrate key role of salt in allergic immune reactions
February 21, 2019 - Experts propose revising the criteria for diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease
February 21, 2019 - The med student and the machine
February 21, 2019 - Hey, Hey! Ho, Ho! Is Striking For School Nurses The Way To Go?
February 21, 2019 - Latest research encourages children to move out and learn through physical activity
February 21, 2019 - Proper oral hygiene and regular visits to dentist can promote heart health
February 21, 2019 - New, versatile technique for remote control of transplanted cells in Parkinson’s
February 21, 2019 - Why melanoma tumors in the brain may be worse?
February 21, 2019 - New project aims to improve lung disease care in Appalachia
February 21, 2019 - Drug increases melanin production in some people with albinism
February 21, 2019 - Over 1 in 3 adults miss the mark on protein, finds study
February 21, 2019 - CymaBay Therapeutics Announces Seladelpar Granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the FDA for the Treatment of Primary Biliary Cholangitis
February 21, 2019 - A correlation between obesity and income has only developed in the past 30 years
February 21, 2019 - Baby, then work: An effort to help resident-parents in emergency medicine
February 21, 2019 - Heavy cigarette smoking could damage vision, say researchers
February 21, 2019 - Some drug combinations may be more effective than others for schizophrenic patients
February 21, 2019 - Combination of common antibiotics can eliminate multi-drug resistant E. coli
February 21, 2019 - New computational tool searches for factors that cause specific diseases
February 21, 2019 - New method to assess effectiveness of psychotherapies for social anxiety disorder
February 21, 2019 - New technology measures hormones that influence reproductive health efficiently
February 21, 2019 - Bat influenza viruses could potentially attack the cells of humans and livestock
February 21, 2019 - Immunotherapeutic antibody therapy to kill cancer has now progressed to patient testing
February 21, 2019 - Johns Hopkins scientists find new compound that may prevent reperfusion injury
February 21, 2019 - Researchers develop new way to deliver treatment for cartilage regeneration
February 21, 2019 - Study sheds new light on left ventricular dysfunction in ischemic heart disease
February 21, 2019 - New technique could expedite cancer diagnosis, lead to better patient outcomes
February 21, 2019 - New map of infant brain may aid early diagnosis of autism
February 21, 2019 - Human consciousness depends on the brain’s ability to maintain dynamics of neural activity
February 21, 2019 - Harmony Biosciences Announces File Acceptance Of Its New Drug Application For Pitolisant
February 21, 2019 - Medications could fill treatment gap for adolescents with obesity
February 21, 2019 - New antibiotics are desperately needed: Machine learning could help | News Center
February 21, 2019 - Researchers develop new computer game for dementia carers
February 21, 2019 - University of Dundee partners with Takeda to develop new treatments for tau pathology
February 21, 2019 - Influenza vaccine may be less effective in elderly patients, finds study
February 21, 2019 - Researchers explain why T cells lose their protective ability in inflamed tissues
February 21, 2019 - New optimization method rapidly analyzes nanomedicines for cancer treatment
February 21, 2019 - Viruses in the intestinal tracts can lead to islet autoimmunity and Type 1 diabetes
February 21, 2019 - Link between dietary fatty acid intake and hypertension found to be influenced by diabetes status
February 21, 2019 - FDA Approves Esperoct (turoctocog alfa pegol, N8-GP) for Hemophilia A
February 21, 2019 - ‘Boy erased’—why conversion therapies and ex-gay ministries should be outlawed
February 21, 2019 - Titia de Lange to give annual McCormick Lecture on March 8 | News Center
February 21, 2019 - Study reveals how helper T cells support memory cells to function optimally
February 21, 2019 - Autistic children with co-occurring ADHD have greater adaptive behavior impairments
February 21, 2019 - Elevated levels of key cellular process implicated in intestinal inflammation and IBD
February 20, 2019 - Over Half of Hip Replacements Expected to Last 25 Years
February 20, 2019 - Microscopic eye movements affect how we see contrast
February 20, 2019 - Computer vs. patient: Fighting for residents’ attention | News Center
February 20, 2019 - New “Smart Drug” Shows Promise for Metastatic Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
February 20, 2019 - Researchers develop large-scale window material for high-efficiency PM2.5 capture
February 20, 2019 - Widespread confusion among consumers on food date labels lead to unnecessary discards
February 20, 2019 - Researchers unlock plant’s secret of producing specialized metabolites
February 20, 2019 - Newly released national framework identifies obstacles to improving EMS systems
February 20, 2019 - Exercise can shift human body clock depending on time when people work out
February 20, 2019 - Female adolescent blood donors more likely to have iron deficiency and related anemia
February 20, 2019 - Rubicon level linked to inhibition of autophagic process
February 20, 2019 - Researchers find potential therapeutic strategy to treat Alzheimer’s
February 20, 2019 - New forms of older anti-cancer agent appear to enhance immune response to fight melanoma
February 20, 2019 - Health Tip: Eat Less Saturated Fat
February 20, 2019 - Sleeping in contact lenses puts you at risk of dangerous infection
February 20, 2019 - “We should study that!”: How a nurse-scientist found her passion
February 20, 2019 - Cervical microbiome may influence HPV infection more than previously thought
February 20, 2019 - Sausage mislabeling in Canada is down, new study finds
February 20, 2019 - Study shows blood pressure benefits of morning exercise for older overweight/obese adults
February 20, 2019 - New screening method could catch organ rejection much earlier without a biopsy needle
February 20, 2019 - Study may have important implications for refining parenting during child’s adolescence
February 20, 2019 - Study sheds new light on how antibiotic resistance genes are transferred between bacteria
February 20, 2019 - Chronic Wasting Disease may soon spread to humans, warns CDC
February 20, 2019 - Scientists identify new genetic causes linked to abnormal pregnancies and miscarriages
February 20, 2019 - Using LyoSpeed technology to avoid residual solvent when drying HPLC fractions
February 20, 2019 - New AI can identify, predict development of different combinations of cancer symptoms
February 20, 2019 - Scientists join forces to identify a new approach to fight African sleeping sickness
February 20, 2019 - New screening tool more likely to identify sexual and labor exploitation of youth
February 20, 2019 - Newly licensed nurses work for long hours, also have a second paid job
February 20, 2019 - Physicists identify simple mechanism used by deadly bacteria to fend off antibiotics
February 20, 2019 - FDA Grants Priority Review to Genentech’s Personalized Medicine Entrectinib
February 20, 2019 - Exposure to chemicals before and after birth is associated with a decrease in lung function
February 20, 2019 - Neuroscientists reveal that simple brain region can guide complex feats of mental activity
February 20, 2019 - Study finds new link between food allergies and multiple sclerosis
February 20, 2019 - First gene therapy operation for macular degeneration is a success
The brain’s immune system may be key to new Alzheimer’s treatments

The brain’s immune system may be key to new Alzheimer’s treatments

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Huaxi Xu, Ph.D., professor and director of SBP’s Neuroscience Initiative. Credit: Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Research Institute (SBP) researchers have published two new studies in Neuron that describe how TREM2, a receptor found on immune cells in the brain, interacts with toxic amyloid beta proteins to restore neurological function. The research, performed on mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease, suggests boosting TREM2 levels in the brain may prevent or reduce the severity of neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our first paper identifies how amyloid beta binds to TREM2, which activates neural immune cells called microglia to degrade amyloid beta, possibly slowing Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis,” says Huaxi Xu, Ph.D., professor and director of SBP’s Neuroscience Initiative, Jeanne and Gary Herberger Leadership Chair in Neuroscience Research and senior author of the study. “The second study shows that increasing TREM2 levels renders microglia more responsive and reduces Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.”

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 47 million people worldwide, a number expected to grow as the population ages. One of the hallmarks of the disease is the accumulation of amyloid plaques that form between neurons and interfere with brain function. Many drug companies have been working for years to reduce amyloid beta production to thwart Alzheimer’s—but with minimal success.

“TREM2 offers a potential new strategy,” says Xu.”Researchers have known that mutations in TREM2 significantly increase Alzheimer’s risk, indicating a fundamental role for this particular receptor in protecting the brain. This new research reveals specific details about how TREM2 works, and supports future therapeutic strategies to strengthen the link between amyloid beta and TREM2, as well as increasing TREM2 levels in the brain to protect against pathological features of the disease.

Xu led the first study (TREM2 is a receptor for β-amyloid which mediates microglial function), showing that TREM2 binds quite specifically to amyloid beta. In particular, it connects with amyloid beta oligomers (proteins that bind together to form a polymer), which are the protein’s most toxic configuration. Without TREM2, microglia were much less successful at binding to, and clearing out, amyloid beta.

Further investigation showed that removing TREM2 downregulated microglial potassium ion channels, impairing the electrical currents associated with the activation of these immune cells. In addition, TREM2 turned on a number of mechanisms associated with the amyloid beta response in microglia.

The second study (TREM2 Gene Dosage Increase Reprograms Microglia Responsivity and Ameliorates Pathological Phenotypes in Alzheimer’s Disease Models), a collaboration led by with X. William Yang, M.D., Ph.D., professor in Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, added TREM2 to a mouse model with aggressive Alzheimer’s disease. They found that the added TREM2 signaling stopped disease progression and even restored cognitive function.

“These studies are important because they show that in addition to rescuing the pathology associated with Alzheimer’s disease, we are able to reduce the behavioral deficits with TREM2,” says Xu. “To our knowledge this provides convincing evidence that minimizing amyloid beta levels alleviates Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.” As they learn more about how TREM2 modulates the amyloid signals that put microglia to work, the Xu lab and other researchers have their work cut out for them.

“It could be beneficial in early stages to activate microglia to eat up amyloid beta,” says Xu, “but if you over-activate them, they may release an overabundance of cytokines (causing extensive inflammation) damaging healthy synaptic junctions as a side-effect from overactivation.”

Still, the ability to use the brain’s existing immune mechanisms to clear amyloid offers intriguing possibilities.

“Going after microglia, rather than amyloid beta generation, may be a new research avenue for Alzheimer’s disease,” says Xu. “We could use brain immune cells to solve what’s becoming a public health crisis.”


Explore further:
One step closer to defeating Alzheimer’s disease

More information:
Neuron (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.01.031

Neuron (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.02.002

Journal reference:
Neuron

Provided by:
Sanford-Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles