Anti-amyloid-beta to tau-based immunization: developments in immunotherapy for Alzheimer's disease
Doris Lambracht-Washington, Roger N Rosenberg
Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, Alzheimer's Disease Center, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA
Abstract: Immunotherapy might provide an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease (AD). A unique feature of AD immunotherapies is that an immune response against a self-antigen needs to be elicited without causing adverse autoimmune reactions. Current research is focused on two possible targets in this regard. One is the inhibition of accumulation and deposition of amyloid beta 1–42 (Aβ42), which is one of the major peptides found in senile plaques, and the second target is hyperphosphorylated tau, which forms neurofibrillary tangles inside the nerve cell and shows association with the progression of dementia. Mouse models have shown that immunotherapy targeting Aβ42 as well as tau with the respective anti-Aβ or anti-tau antibodies can provide significant improvements in these mice. While anti-Aβ immunotherapy (active and passive immunizations) is already in several stages of clinical trials, tau-based immunizations have been analyzed only in mouse models. Recently, as a significant correlation of progression of dementia and levels of phosphorylated tau have been found, high interest has again focused on further development of tau-based therapies. While Aβ immunotherapy might delay the onset of AD, immunotherapy targeting tau might provide benefits in later stages of this disease. Last but not least, targeting Aβ and tau simultaneously with immunotherapy might provide additional therapeutic effects, as these two pathologies are likely synergistic; this is an approach that has not been tested yet. In this review, we will summarize animal models used to test possible therapies for AD, some of the facts about Aβ42 and tau biology, and present an overview on halted, ongoing, and upcoming clinical trials together with ongoing preclinical studies targeting tau or Aβ42.
Keywords: immunotherapy, prevention trials, active and passive vaccination, tau protein, amyloid precursor protein, Aβ42, neurofibrillary tangles
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