August 13, 1992 - August 13, 2025

  • Date:19SundaySeptember 2021

    Deciphering the role of brain- resident and infiltrating myeloid cells in Alzheimer’s disease

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    14:00 - 15:30
    Raz Dvir-Szternfeld (PhD Thesis Defense)
    Prof. Michal Schwartz Lab, Dept of Neurobiology and Prof. Ido Amit Lab, Dept of Immunology, WIS
    Department of Brain Sciences
    Joint Seminar
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    Meeting ID: 973 0353 6627
    Password: 503277
    AbstractShow full text abstract about Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an age-related neurodegenerative...»
    Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an age-related neurodegenerative disorder, which is the most common cause of dementia. Among the key hallmarks of AD are neurofibrillary tangles, abnormal amyloid beta (A) aggregation, neuroinflammation and neuronal loss; altogether manifested in progressive cognitive decline. Numerous attempts were made to arrest or slow disease progression by directly targeting these factors, with a limited successes in having a meaningful effect on cognition. In the recent years, the focus of AD research has been extended towards exploring the local and systemic immune response. Yet, the role of the two main myeloid populations, the central nerve system (CNS) resident immune cells, microglia and blood-borne monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) remain unclear. In my PhD, together with members of the teams, using behavioral, immunological, biochemical and single-cell resolution molecular techniques, we deciphered the distinct role of microglia and MDM in transgenic mouse models of AD pathology. Using single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) in 5xFAD amyloidosis mouse model, we have identified a new state of microglia, which we named disease associated microglia (DAM) that were found in close proximity to A plaques. The full activation of these cells was found to be dependent on Triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (TREM2), a well-known risk factor in late onset AD. To get an insight to the role of MDM relative to microglia, we used an experimental paradigm of boosting the systemic immunity by modestly blocking the inhibitory immune checkpoint pathway, PD-1/PD-L1, which was previously shown to be beneficial in ameliorating AD in 5xFAD mice, via facilitating homing of MDM to the brain. We found that the same treatment is efficient also in mouse model of tauopathy and that the MDM homing to the brain following the treatment expressed a unique set of scavenger molecules, including macrophage scavenger receptor 1 (MSR1). We found that MDM expressing MSR1 are essential for the disease modification. Using the same immune-modulatory treatment in a mouse model deficient in TREM2 (Trem2-/-5xFAD) and thus in DAM, allowed us to distinguish between the contribution to the disease modification of MDM and DAM. We found, that MDM display a Trem2-independent role in the cognitive improvement. In both Trem2-/-5xFAD and Trem2+/+5xFAD mice the treatment effect on behavior was accompanied by a reduction in the levels of hippocampal water-soluble Aβ1-42, a fraction of A that contains toxic oligomers. In Trem2+/+5xFAD mice, the same treatment seemed to activate additional Trem2-dependent mechanism, that could involve facilitation of removal of Aβ plaques by DAM or by other TREM2-expressing microglia. Collectively, our finding demonstrates the distinct role of activated microglia and MDM in therapeutic mechanism of AD pathology. They also support the approach of empowering the immune system to facilitate MDM mobilization as a common mechanism for treating AD, regardless of primary disease etiology and TREM2 genetic polymorphism.