Increasing data implicate adaptive immunity in Alzheimer’s disease pathophysiology, but its involvement remains poorly defined. Using a mouse model, Dansokho et al. show that regulatory T cells slow cognitive decline and modulate the microglial response to amyloid deposition. The results support the therapeutic potential of regulatory T cell-based immunotherapy.

Increasing data implicate adaptive immunity in Alzheimer’s disease pathophysiology, but its involvement remains poorly defined. Using a mouse model, Dansokho et al. show that regulatory T cells slow cognitive decline and modulate the microglial response to amyloid deposition. The results support the therapeutic potential of regulatory T cell-based immunotherapy.

Abstract

Recent studies highlight the implication of innate and adaptive immunity in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease, and foster immunotherapy as a promising strategy for its treatment. Vaccines targeting amyloid-β peptide provided encouraging results in mouse models, but severe side effects attributed to T cell responses in the first clinical trial AN1792 underlined the need for better understanding adaptive immunity in Alzheimer’s disease. We previously showed that regulatory T cells critically control amyloid-β-specific CD4 + T cell responses in both physiological and pathological settings. Here, we analysed the impact of regulatory T cells on spontaneous disease progression in a murine model of Alzheimer’s disease. Early transient depletion of regulatory T cells accelerated the onset of cognitive deficits in APPPS1 mice, without altering amyloid-β deposition. Earlier cognitive impairment correlated with reduced recruitment of microglia towards amyloid deposits and altered disease-related gene expression profile. Conversely, amplification of regulatory T cells through peripheral low-dose IL-2 treatment increased numbers of plaque-associated microglia, and restored cognitive functions in APPPS1 mice. These data suggest that regulatory T cells play a beneficial role in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease, by slowing disease progression and modulating microglial response to amyloid-β deposition. Our study highlights the therapeutic potential of repurposed IL-2 for innovative immunotherapy based on modulation of regulatory T cells in Alzheimer’s disease.

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