A new, potential way of treating Alzheimer’s disease is described in a study published in Nature Communications this week. This study shows that, by targeting specific white blood cells important in regulating the body’s immune system, known as regulatory T-cells, key symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be successfully treated in mice.
Alzheimer’s disease affects the central nervous system, leading to damage to neurons, formation of clumps of protein known as plaques, and chronic inflammation. It was previously realised that these symptoms are alleviated when immune cells are channelled towards the central nervous system.
In this paper, Michal Schwartz and colleagues show that blocking the activity of specific T-cells (known as Foxp3+ Tregs) allows more immune cells to move towards the mouse brain. As a consequence, inflammation and plaques are reduced, and the animals perform better in cognitive tests. This work highlights a role of regulatory T-cells in diseases that affect the brain. It also identifies these cells as possible drug targets for future treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.