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Brain Pathol. 2008 Apr;18(2):267-78. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3639.2008.00134.x.

The role of the immune system in clearance of Abeta from the brain.

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Division of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.


In Alzheimer's disease (AD), there is abnormal accumulation of Abeta and tau proteins in the brain. There is an associated immunological response, but it is still unclear whether this is beneficial or harmful. Inflammation in AD, specifically in the form of microglial activation, has, for many years, been considered to contribute to disease progression. However, two types of evidence suggest that it may be appropriate to revise this view: first, the disappointing results of prospective clinical trials of anti-inflammatory agents and, second, the observation that microglia can clear plaques in AD following Abeta immunization. Although Abeta immunization alters AD pathology, there is limited evidence so far of benefit to cognitive function. Immunization against microorganisms is almost always used as a method of disease prevention rather than to treat a disease process that has already started. In animal models, immunotherapy at an early age can protect against Abeta accumulation and it will be interesting to see if this can usefully be applied to humans to prevent AD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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